Honouring our volunteers
On June 10, 2010, BCAM held its first volunteer appreciation event. This was our opportunity to acknowledge the work of 79 volunteers who have been instrumental in expanding BCAM’s impact over the past year.
President Rosanne Cohen welcomed the volunteers. She expressed heartfelt thanks for all their efforts, which prove we really are a team working together on BCAM’s mission. When we think of all the work BCAM’s volunteers do, it’s overwhelming! They work on our website; they are the coordinators and animators of our public education presentations; they write, edit and translate our newsletter; they are our FemmeToxic volunteers; they are those who help fundraise – they are the volunteers that are always there for us, lending a helping hand when one is needed. We wanted to take this occasion to “pat ourselves on the back” to acknowledge the important work we do, and especially, to acknowledge that we do it all together.
After a light supper the guests joined members of the public for the lecture, "Assertive Advocates and Reluctant Champions: Comparing the Breast Cancer and Prostate Cancer Activist Movements in the U.S.A," which was given by Dr. Karen Kedrowski, Visiting Fulbright Chair in Health, Indigenous Peoples, Media and Education at the McGill Institute for the Study of Canada. Dr. Kedrowski pointed out that prostate cancer is to men what breast cancer is to women and drew a parallel between the sex hormones testosterone and estrogen regarding lifetime exposures. She also mentioned that the use of chemicals in farming has been a known environmental risk factor for prostate cancer since the 1980s.
However, the evolution of the breast cancer and prostate cancer movements has been very different. Historically, women have been more open to discussing health (and social) issues and taking action to improve conditions. Men have been reluctant to “go public” because it has not been considered manly. Dr. Kedrowski reported that men are much more willing to donate money to a prostate cancer group than to take part in its work. In fact, the women in their families are more likely to actively participate.
Dr. Kedrowski’s comments raise the question: Is the situation different in Canada? At least one public figure, Jack Layton, leader of the NDP, is outspoken about his condition.
Reactions to this first-time BCAM celebration of volunteers were enthusiastic. Joseph Caron, a volunteer translator, expressed his pleasure at meeting some of the other volunteers and found Dr. Kedrowski’s lecture a stimulating end to the evening. “Her comparison of the composition and modus operandi of the two types of activist/support/fund raising groups which organized around the two diseases was fascinating.”