Breast Cancer Action Montreal marks its 10th Anniversary this year. Not quite a 'celebration' — as we have tended to call it — since breast cancer continues to affect one out of nine women in her lifetime. Yet there is good reason to feel proud of our ten years of activism. Ten years in which we have advocated for better diagnosis, treatment and care, and for the right of women to have a voice in the decision-making process regarding health policy and research. The 1993 National Breast Cancer Forum held in Montreal was a landmark event in establishing this process. BCAM members' active involvement was an important factor in making this happen.
From the outset, prevention of the disease has occupied centre stage. We have advocated for more research into primary causes with particular emphasis on the connection between increased use of environmental pollutants and breast cancer — indeed, of all cancers. Sufficient evidence now exists suggesting this connection be reflected in public policy, namely The Precautionary Principle. Known or suspected carcinogens should be banned unless they have been proven safe. (This argument was used in the recent Supreme Court of Canada ruling on the dangers of local pesticide use.) Real prevention means stopping cancer before it starts! This is my recurring dream — what is yours??
We need dreams to give us hope and we need hope to live life fully. BCAM has lived life fully in the past year: In October, we launched Breast Cancer Awareness Month with three electronic billboards on highways around Montreal with the message, "Cancer du Sein — Pourquoi? Action Cancer du Sein de Montréal 483-1846." Board member Susan Hertzberg was responsible for this creative brainchild.
We are proud to have been associated with artist/educator and longstanding active member, Deena Dlusy-Apel, in an exhibition of her work, a portion of which related to the breast cancer experience. This theme was also the focus of an evening of improvisational theatre by the Montreal Playback Theatre Company. BCAM benefited from the proceeds of a raffle of a painting graciously donated by Deena.
Last Fall, BCAM'ers participated in a membership drive which resulted in 137 new members. On March 1st, a well-attended get-acquainted and welcoming evening was held for all members. We take this opportunity to welcome those members who did not attend this enjoyable event.
Our major 10th Anniversary event was a public meeting held at Concordia University on April 26th. To offset the costs of this event, we are grateful to Mr. Max Yas for a generous donation in memory of his daughter, Linda Yas Ross, who died of breast cancer in August of 2000. Linda earned a Ph.D. in educational psychology at McGill. As a further commemoration of our ten years, we are indebted to board member Janine O'Leary Cobb who wrote a comprehensive 'History of BCAM'— a lasting memento which is included with this mailing.
During the past year, Ginette Boucher has continued the important work of organizing outreach activities to community groups, including the teaching of breast self-examination (BSE).
HEAL (Health and the Environment — Action and Learning) is a BCAM study group that holds monthly meetings on environmental topics selected by the participants. The project is led by board member Lanie Melamed. Discussions are held in a friendly, informal setting on the seond Wednesday of the month. Details are available from our office.
Suzanne Ferland now represents BCAM on the advisory Quality Control Committee of the PQDCS (Programme québécois pour la dépistage du cancer du sein). Many thanks to her and to Denise Langlois who undertook this task on our behalf for a number of years.
BCAM is fortunate to have reliable volunteers whose help is essential to keeping up with the work. Francine Houle is one example of our good fortune — she is a translator 'par excellence.'
Other volunteers do essential tasks such as mailing and telephoning. Our thanks to one and all.
Donna Roberts, former editor of this bulletin, is leaving Montreal — much to our regret. Donna is a filmmaker and journalist and has been an outstanding member of the Board as well as an articulate spokeswoman for us. We shall miss her greatly and wish her all the best. Terrye Perlman, our most recent board member and able Treasurer, brings a wealth of knowledge about breast cancer issues and is very helpful in the decision-making process.
Our thanks to Sarah Cobb for getting our website up and running. Maychai Brown is our new Administrative Secretary. Maychai brings valuable experience in working for non-profit organizations. Her roots go deep in this community even though she hails originally from Oklahoma! You'll find her a most sympathetic listener.
Our longstanding policy concerning donations has now been formalized in a written statemnt. Freedom to express our opinions in the best interest of women's health motivates this statement. Our search for creative ways to meet our financial obligations is ongoing. We seek our members' input and participation in this regard.
You can read BCAM's response to the Report of the Canadian Task Force on Preventive Health about breast self-examination. Reaction to the Report received much media attention, including my own brief comments on CBC Radio — necessarily non-committal until the board had an opportunity to approve a statement. We welcome your comments.
A few months before this Canadian Task Force Report, a study appeared in the English medical journal, the Lancet, reporting that clinical breast examinations (i.e., by trained medical personnel) yielded more accurate results than mammograms in the detection of breast cancer. In order to explore this subject in greater depth, we have invited Dr. Cornelia Baines, a recognized world authority on breast examination, to address our members at the Annual General Meeting scheduled for Thursday, October 4th. We are confident that Dr. Baines will help us sift through the contradictory opinions expressed on this crucial issue. We look forward to seeing you.