We want to extend the warmest congratulations to Breast Cancer Action Quebec on your 25th anniversary!  BCAQc remains one of the few voices in Canada and Quebec focused on the primary prevention of breast cancer.  It has miraculously survived and grown over these decades in spite of the corporate and governmental attacks on women and public health groups.  There are few other feminist and environmental justice organizations with your mandate and your staying -power.  We applaud your efforts to extend the struggle for breast cancer prevention to the work environment where too many women face the hazards of exposure to mammary carcinogens, hormone disrupters and shift work.  We thank you for all the support you have given to so many including ourselves. All the best for the future.   We stand with you in solidarity and affection.

Dr. Jim Brophy and Dr. Margaret Keith

Congratulations BCAQc on 25 years of activism, education, engagement and community building. You have been a strong and important voice for environmental health issues in Canada. Your critical analysis, dedication to environmental justice and public education campaigns on toxics and endocrine disruptors have helped make our communities healthier. Thank you for your focus on prevention, and for your tremendous efforts to promote healthier policies and environments. Your friends at Environmental Defence, Maggie and Muhannad.

Maggie MacDonald, Program Manager, Toxics and Muhannad Malas, Program Coordinator, Toxics
Environmental Defence Canada

For 25 years, BCAM/BCAQc has emphasized that prevention is the cure for breast cancer, the only cure that matters.  Only if the roots of breast cancer are identified and removed will the diagnosis begin to wither.  The network of roots that BCAM/BCAQc addresses includes the toxins in our environments; the chemicals in our cosmetics; the inadequate social programs that prevent too many from being able to have access to or purchase healthy and safe food products; and all other harms deriving from injust and inequitable political policies and structural conditions. BRAVAS to BCAM/BCAQc for all it has accomplished in pulling out roots during its first 1/4 century. All best wishes for leading the way to further prevention in the future.

Abby Lippman, Professor Emerita, Epidemiology, Biostatistics and Occupational Health, McGill University, well-known women’s health activist and longtime member of Breast Cancer Action Quebec

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, BCAQc! Sharon Batt`s baby is now a fully-fledged adult organization. How lucky am I to have been part of its growing years. Wishing BCAQc success and prosperity until it puts itself out of business and breast cancer is defeated.

Janine O'Leary Cobb, Author, health activist. long-time member and supporter of BCAQc

I was hired in December, 2000, the eve of BCAM’s tenth anniversary, for the position of “Administrative Secretary.” I was immediately impressed with the initiative and creativity of BCAM volunteers. Board member Susan Hertzberg had achieved a coup in convincing a large media company to show an animated message “Cancer du Sein Pourquoi?” visible to commuters on billboards above three highways. Artist Deena Dlusy-Apel created a vending machine dispensing whimsical hand-sewn breast effigies illustrating that one in nine women experienced breast cancer.

Potential board members were warned, “It’s a working board.” President Rose Alper’s mantra, “How can we put forth our best energy to stop cancer before it starts?” stimulated a flow of initiatives. The yearly Lanie Melamed Memorial Lecture was born, and its first speaker was Barbara Brenner, executive director of Breast Cancer Action (San Francisco). An annual march took place on Monkland Avenue under the banner “Prevention is the Cure / Prévenir, c’est guérir.” Board member Carol Secter dreamed of a rally with greater scope and obtained permission to march from McGill’s Roddick Gates.

Chris Kupka’s team created an annual workshop focusing on toxins in the environment in order to involve BCAM’s members in our mission

Writer and editor Janine O’Leary Cobb joined the board bringing her experience of writing about women’s medical issues. She articulated BCAM’s emphasis on prevention on a variety of platforms for different audiences —The BCAM Bulletin, which she edited; the fledgling website WWW. BCAM.QC.CA / WWW.ACSM.QC.CA; a booklet on the history of the organization, Breast Cancer Action Montreal: The First Decade / Action cancer du Sein Montréal: La Première décennie; and the PowerPoint presentation Breast Cancer as We See It / Le cancer du sein –tel que nous le voyons, which became the script for the new speaker’s bureau.

It was indeed a working board. Thank you, Avis, Terrye, Rose, Janine, Chris, Deena, Carol, Carole, Susan, Donna, Elana, Laura, and Diana – all of us inspired by the enthusiasm of the late Lanie Melamed.

Maychai Brown, former board and newsletter committee member, long-time member and supporter of BCAQc

Huge congratulations to the wonderful and committed women of BCAQc - from its early days when it was a seed planted by Sharon Batt that grew and grew - to its new incarnation with Jennifer Beeman at the helm - you have held true to the principles of precaution and prevention over the cure. And the women of Canada have benefitted tremendously from that vision and drive. Thank you, and big warm hugs to all.

Anne Rochon Ford, Research Associate, York University, National Network on Environments and Women's Health

It was a happy convergence to learn about BCAQc around the same time as I saw the film Pink Ribbons Inc. Since my diagnosis in 2009 and the year from hell of treatment that followed, I'd been increasingly uncomfortable about the "pinkifying" / infantalizing of the breast cancer experience and relieved to find others who were naming it so wisely. I was thrilled to learn that BCAQc was a  feminist organization committed to preventing cancer and identifying its environmental perpetrators.

I had written But Hope is Longer: Navigating the Country of Breast Cancer"  (Second Story Press 2012) about the myriad challenges of the breast cancer experience, including navigating a fractured system, finding the right treatment plan and straddling mainstream and naturopathic cancer care. As my hope was that my book might be a resource for the women who would follow me, I was delighted when Patricia Kearns invited me to a Café Rencontre with BCAQc in April, 2015. I was also pleased to introduce BCAQc to Fem International, which provided their warm, intimate space for the event.

It turned out to be a magical evening with the 23 women who came to meet and talk. Each had her own story, a thirst to listen and share. It was palpable in the room, almost anxious. When I shared what I had been through, challenging my doctors at the same time as I was wrestling with my own mortality, there was a sense of relief in the room. It was as if it was OK to have doubts and fears and to voice them was desirable and smart, proactive. We arrived as strangers but left as sisters.

My dad, Gil Levine, was a tireless fighter for social justice. When he died in 2009, he set aside some money to keep up the struggle to make the world a better place. Last year, I suggested to my 92-year old mother and my sister that we make a memorial donation in his name to BCAQc. We were all delighted to so.

Huge congratulations to BCAQc on your 25th anniversary. Keep up the incredible work you do. In sisterhood, Tamara Levine.

Tamara Levine, author and supporter of BCAQc

Happy anniversary, Breast Cancer Action Quebec! I've had the great joy and honour of speaking at one of your events and working with your team over the years. You really are an amazing group of women and a powerful force for good. Congrats on 25 years of kicking butt, helping to detox the world in the name of women everywhere!

Adria Vasil, author of the Ecoholic book series & environmental journalist

We are pioneers. We learned that toxic chemicals in the environment were a possible cause of breast cancer, a connection that no other Canadian breast cancer organization talked about. We raised the alarm and we continue to do so without the other organizations coming on board. But now, the tide is turning and more voices have joined with us in the fight to have these chemicals banned or regulated.

Rose Alper, Past board member and life-time member of BCAQc


For a number of years I had been involved in Habitat for Humanity because my son needed a driver to get to the meetings and worksites. Now he was done volunteering, and I was looking for something new. Nancy, who had connected with BCAM after her BC diagnosis, said that it would fit nicely with my environmental concerns—and they had great potlucks!

I joined BCAM, then became a board member, and eventually took on the presidency for a few years.

In June of 2005, I went to the World Conference on Breast Cancer. Madeleine Bird was presenting the research on pink ribbon marketing she’d done for us when Barbara Brenner needed Canadian info for a public lecture that she was giving for BCAM. We met the amazing team from the Breast Cancer Fund—and it was a game changer for me!

Here was a way to make information about the health issues resulting from exposure to endocrine disrupting chemicals and other toxicants accessible. And so BCAM’s Safe Cosmetics Campaign was born.

It proved to be a great way to get the message out about the management of chemical policy and how it affected our health. Following our success with this vehicle, both the Suzuki Foundation and Environmental Defense started safe cosmetics campaigns.

Today the federal government is finally showing signs that they believe that the industry needs to be regulated by someone other than itself. Only about 13% of the ingredients used have been tested for safety and, despite labeling laws that have been in place for a decade, there continue to be ingredients in our cosmetic and personal care products that are not listed because they are considered trade secrets.

Carol Secter, Past board member and life-time member of BCAQc

All We are Saying ….is Give Prevention a Chance!

What I have always loved about BCAM (BCAQc) is the group’s focus on real prevention.  As an environmental health advocate, I work with a range of international networks to highlight the many chemical links to cancer and other diseases. But it can be hard to get this message out to the public in a way that empowers people to take action.  And that’s what makes BCAM so effective: they love to talk to people in ways that grab attention, be it an interactive and animated talk or a march down Rue Ste Catherine.  But my most cherished memory is of our ‘bed in’ at the John Lennon suite in the Queen Elizabeth Hotel where John and Yoko recorded ‘Give Peace a Chance’ in 1969.  Fast forward to 2011 and here we are all singing ‘Give Prevention a Chance’ on the same bed in the same suite adorned with photos of visitors and journalists visiting the iconic pair.  Our aim was to raise attention to the need to label known carcinogenic chemicals in consumer products.

(that’s me on the right!)

It’s that wonderful inventive spirit from dedicated volunteers that I love most about BCAQc.  Congratulations on 25 years of dedicated promotion of safer products and a healthier community!

Bev Thorpe, Networks and Advocacy for Clean Production Action

"Wow! Twenty-five years of research, activism, and education by women addressing the root causes of breast cancer! I am so proud to have played a small role in this amazing and always-growing movement of women working together to prevent breast cancer. As a young board member in the 90s, I looked up to the women who were a generation older than me and who were raising the alarm about the rising incidence of breast cancer. BCAM has been at the forefront of a movement of women and environmentalists who have challenged corporate influence on our health, and has put women's health first. Thank you to BCAM for stepping up and speaking out for 25 years!"

Elana Wright, Research and Advocacy Officer, Development and Peace - Caritas Canada

Working with BCAM/BCAQc has broadened my horizons. I feel privileged to help the work of this amazing organization reach a wider audience, and honoured to have had the opportunity to interpret experts such as Dr. Jim Brophy, Dr. Margaret Keith, Adria Vasil and Samantha King, to name but a few. I wish BCAQc much success in all its future endeavours!

Joan McCordick, volunteer translator and interpreter

Breast Cancer Action Quebec (BCAQc) has been way ahead of the curve in revealing the impacts of toxins in our everyday lives. And they have been doing this persistently for years. BCAQc has been creatively curating knowledge, events and community and inspiring us to make critical connections about our bodies, our health and our changing environment.

Liz Miller, Professor, Concordia University, and Deb Vanslet, Production coordinator, Studio XX

During my summer internship at BCAQc I was lucky enough to work with this group of exceptionally talented and intelligent individuals whose dedication to their cause is unparalleled.  Though I engaged in different and interesting tasks in the office, one memory in particular stands out and actually took place outside those walls. I was asked to assist and sit in on a workshop for teenage girls about the harmful effects the seemingly innocent cosmetics we use can have on our bodies. Throughout the workshop, participant after participant began to voice their anger and frustration over the cosmetic industry’s reckless use of dangerous chemicals in their favourite products and were eager to find out what they could do to change this situation. I was so overwhelmed with pride that our words were getting through to these young women, these young women who would form the next generation of strong, passionate activists who would refuse to stand idly by while big corporations sold them these unnecessarily poisonous items. There was never a doubt in my mind over the importance of the work undertaken by BCAQc, but to see it unfold and take effect before my eyes moved me beyond words.

Jessica Romera, student intern

If people ask me how they can advocate for breast cancer prevention, the first place I send them is BCA-Qc. For a quarter century, BCA-Qc has been a leading voice in the effort to eliminate carcinogens in our environment and a powerful agent of social change. I am proud to support their continued efforts to stop breast cancer before it starts and to congratulate them on this historic milestone.

Samantha King, Professor, Queen’s University and author Pink Ribbons Inc.

It is with the deepest respect that I salute BCAQc’s 25 years! The activists who, throughout all these years, spoke out about the need for prevention, within our capitalist system that is geared to destruction rather than creation and that largely ignores this message, had to do so with firm conviction and from an intelligent and informed standpoint. I thank you from the bottom of my heart for raising awareness of the complex issues of breast health in the context of Big Pharma and other industries, and for suggesting means of prevention to men and women willing to take things a step further and change their habits. If the day comes when a government has the political will to impose and apply the precautionary principle, it will be thanks to groups such as BCAQc. Let me add that it has always been a delight to work with you, not only because of your expertise, but also because of your great kindness and your skill at opening the minds of people who have been taken in by pink marketing. Patricia, Jennifer and all the others, thank you for existing and rest assured that BCA-Qc can continue to count on the support of the Comité de la condition féminine of the CSN’s Conseil central du Montréal-Métropolitain.
Long life!

Linda Boisclair, Past Chair of Comité de la condition féminine du Conseil central du Montréal-Métropolitain de la CSN

A dear friend was suffering through her really hard experience of treatment a few years ago, and, powerless, I just wanted to DO something. So I joined BCAQc's social media committee, while in its planning stages for a social media blitz about endocrine disruptors. Step one for me: what the hell is an endocrine disruptor and - back that up - um, what does our endocrine system do again?

Fast forward to me learning a whole lot in a very short time about how our endocrine system regulates our hormones, and how so many of our personal care and consumer products have ingredients that affect our bodies in ways we can't imagine. (Some of these products have a pink ribbon slapped on them every October!)

I believe I was the only woman on that committee who had not had breast cancer. The ages around the table spanned from 20s to 70s. Everyone had their own different perspectives, experiences, backgrounds and beliefs. But our common thread was the infuriating and heart-breaking knowledge that we still have made so little progress in beating down the prevalence of breast cancer that continues to explode the lives of 1 in 9 women and the people who love them.

So on the occasion of BCAQc's 25th anniversary, my wishes are for more people to ask more questions and demand answers. Where is the research money going? Why do we not yet have more effective preventative research? Do we need better regulations about the ingredients in our consumer products that are linked to cancer? When will we have less torturous treatment for breast cancer than "slash, burn and poison" (surgery, radiation and chemo)?

1 in 9 women, and their families and friends need to know, and that's all of us.

So thank you, BCAQc, for 25 years of being on that journey, of asking the hard questions and sharing the knowledge. There is no way for me to tie these words up happily with a tidy little bow (and certainly not a pink ribbon), while so many women continue to suffer. So I will just leave it there, for now: thank you, BCAQc.

Alexandra Yanofsky

Happy 25th to BCAQc!  You were one of the first advocates and critical voices for those with breast cancer.  After 25 years you continue with strength!  Thank-you for giving me the opportunity to share my knowledge in making non-complicated, beneficial skin care products.  Thanks for passing this info along to many others that I would not have reached on my own.  I am super proud to be a part of this movement! 

Tammy Schmidt

A few years after I finished all treatments for breast cancer (the whole ball of wax: 2 surgeries, chemotherapy and radiation), I took up a new annual ritual – the CIBC Run for the Cure. Never having been a runner or even a slow jogger, this was a real challenge. To be able to run 5 k without stopping. Didn’t matter how long it took, just the idea of getting to the finish line in one uninterrupted run (OK, OK a slow jog). That first time literally brought tears to my eyes. Hard for me to believe – it became an annual ritual/superstition, one piece of my wellness routine which has also led to meditation and being vegetarian (organic produce). So every year since 2003, I have registered and participated in the Run – 5 k, never stopping. And I always paid the registration fee, raised funds from friends and family. Until a few years ago when I watched the documentary film Pink Ribbons Inc. And I was stunned to learn about what the Globe and Mail referred to as ‘Pinkwashing’ and the dark side of breast-cancer philanthropy: how corporations profit so much from these “fundraising” activities. The film raised the question: does the money raised by all these Pink activities do any good at all? I decided that I would donate my money to BCAQC instead – oh, I still do the 5k Run, and still have not had to stop. But I prefer to send the equivalent of the funds I would have raised to the organization working more directly to prevent the disease on the ground.

Anonymous Donor