Archive for the ‘2008 Conference’ Category

Exhausted and Energized!

June 12, 2008

Judi BartekIt’s been just over a month since I returned from the NBCCF Advocacy Conference and my mind is still spinning from everything I learned during those three days. While I returned exhausted from the brain-expanding plenary sessions and workshops, I felt energized to take this new knowledge and incorporate it into nursing practice at Boston’s Beth Israel Deaconess BreastCare Center. To no surprise this year’s conference offered an opportunity to hear thought provoking perspectives on topics that I know would never be touched upon at other nursing and medical conferences. I continue to be amazed by NBCCF’s ability to inspire, empower and teach at the same time as they challenge the status quo!

Judi Hirshfield-Bartek RN MS OCN
Clinical Nurse Specialist
Boston’s Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center
NBCCF Board Member
Dr Susan Love Research Foundation


One Word: Plastics

May 28, 2008

The issue of the safety of bisphenol A (BPAs), an environmental chemical that seems to act like hormones, has been in the news a lot lately, and in fact was discussed at NBCCF’s recent Advocacy Training Conference. NBCCF is closely following the ongoing story. BPAs get into food and beverages stored in plastic containers made of polycarbonate, including many baby bottles and some water bottles (labeled with the recycling symbol #7), as well as from cans lined with a polycarbonate resin.

Recently, the U.S. National Toxicology Program, a government organization, issued a draft report on the safety of BPA. The report said that this chemical has been found in the urine of 93% of people aged 6 and older. It didn’t identify any studies of health effects in humans, but there are some laboratory studies in rodents that showed reproductive effects and precancerous breast lesions as a result of exposure to BPA, at low levels of the chemical similar to what humans are exposed to. The report expressed concern that bisphenol A could “possibly” affect human development or reproduction. A review from 2005 analyzed many other studies in laboratory animals, wildlife, and cells have demonstrated that BPA is associated with a variety of hormone-like behaviors and health outcomes in animals, possibly at very low levels of exposure. On May 15, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said that, although their review of the chemical continues, “there is a large body of evidence that indicates that FDA-regulated products containing BPA currently on the market are safe and that exposure levels to BPA from food contact materials, including for infants and children, are below those that may cause health effects.”

NBCCF does not believe that FDA’s confidence in BPA’s safety is justified by the growing body of evidence in animals that BPA is an endocrine disruptor; furthermore, safety has not been demonstrated in human studies.  We would like to see more research to understand BPA’s effects at low exposure levels, and also to see more human studies done of the health effects of this common chemical. The National Cancer Institute and National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences are funding a multi-center study (with investigators in New York City, Cincinnati, and Northern California) to measure BPA and other known and suspected endocrine-disrupting chemicals in 1200 9-year-old girls, and following them forward in time, to see whether exposure to the chemicals is associated with changes in pubertal development, particularly aspects of development that are relevant to breast cancer.

Other plastics used for food packaging may also be of health concern. These are numbered according to the recycling number typically found on the bottom: #3 (polyvinyl chloride, a probable human carcinogen), #6 (polystyrene, a possible human carcinogen); more information can be found at the National Geographic’s Green Guide website. Better choices, according to the Green Guide, are #1 (PET), #2 (high density polyethylene), #4 (low density polyethylene), and #5 (polypropylene). Glass and metal bottles are options as well.

NBCC Advocacy Continues after Conference Attendees Return Home

May 14, 2008

NBCC advocates have left DC, but they continue to lobby their Members of Congress to push for passage of the Breast Cancer and Environmental Research Act (S.579/H.R.1157). Majority Leader Reid brought this bill to the Senate Floor for a vote the evening of NBCC’s April 29th Lobby Day. The bill did not pass due to the objections of one Senator. Since then, 2 additional Senators have joined the vast majority of the colleagues to express their support by cosponsoring S.579, bringing total sponsorship to 70 Senators. NBCC applauds the Nebraska and Kentucky advocates who successfully sought the support of Senators Ben Nelson (D-NE) and Jim Bunning (R-KY).

The Breast Cancer and Environmental Research Act has equal momentum in the House of Representatives. Since NBCC’s Lobby Day, 8 additional Representatives have cosponsored H.R.1157. NBCC advocates worked diligently to garner the support of Representatives Jerry Costello (D- IL), Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH), Greg Walden (R-OR), Jo Ann Emerson (R-MO), Andre Carson (D-IN), John Culberson (R-TX), Peter Roskam (R-IL) and Ed Royce (R-CA). There are 269 sponsors and cosponsors of H.R.1157. This incredible level of support is nearly unprecedented. Of the 12,000 bills introduced in Congress each session, very few, if any, receive this level of cosponsorship. The next step for the bill in the House of Representatives is consideration by the Energy and Commerce Committee.

How can you help push this bill forward to passage this year? At NBCC’s Annual Advocacy Training Conference the more than 600 participants signed letters to the Senate Majority and Minority Leaders, asking them to come to an agreement to debate and vote on S.579. If you weren’t there, you can still send your own letters, by simply visiting Also, check NBCC’s Congressional Record of Support to see if your U.S. Representative or Senator has cosponsored this bill. If not, ask him or her to join 2/3 of his colleagues and cosponsor the Breast Cancer and Environmental Research Act. The time is long overdue for Congress to pass this legislation. They have the power to authorize the National Institutes of Health to work with scientists and consumers and develop a strategic plan for researching the potential links between breast cancer and the environment.

Voices from the Conference — More Conference Video Diaries

May 8, 2008

A big “THANK YOU” to the many conference attendees who stopped by our Interactive Cafe and wrote Blog Reports and/or recorded Conference Video Diaries. For those of you who missed the conference this year, you can read and watch what the advocates had to say about the conference and NBCC. And, if you wrote a report or recorded a diary and haven’t seen it on the blog yet, keep checking back. We’ll be posting more throughout the next few months. For today, here are 4 women sharing their thoughts in Conference Video Diaries. To view other blog posts that include video diaries and/or blog reports, click here.

Holly Anderson

Becky Cwiek

Katherine Lee

Marilyn Lewis

BCERA Goes to the Floor, and the Battle Continues

May 1, 2008

At the conclusion of NBCC’s Lobby Day on Tuesday, April 29, with hundreds of breast cancer survivors from across the country watching from the Senate Gallery, Senator Harry Reid offered the Breast Cancer and Environmental Research Act (S. 579) for passage and debate on the Senate Floor, saying, “Too many women and their families have waited too long for Congress to act…. It is time to offer more than words of encouragement to those affected by breast cancer…this legislation gives them hope that something can be done to find a cause and hopefully a cure.” After Senator Reid’s offer, Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK) objected.

NBCC’s president Fran Visco noted: “The Majority Leader has vowed to get this bill passed this year, and he has on two occasions brought it to the Floor of the U.S. Senate for a vote, and each time one Republican Senator stopped the bill from moving forward. We thank Senator Reid for his leadership, determination and persistence. NBCC is confident that he will be successful in overcoming this barrier so that this important bill can be passed this year.”

BCERA has overwhelming bipartisan support. In addition to Senator Reid, 68 Senators have signed on as co-sponsors. The House companion bill, H.R.1157, also enjoys strong bipartisan support and has 260 co-sponsors. The bill would authorize the Secretary of Health and Human Services, working through the Director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), to develop a national strategic approach to addressing the environmental links to breast cancer through peer-reviewed grants to collaborations of institutions and community groups. Specifically, $40 million per year in Fiscal Years 2008-12 would be authorized for this purpose.

The pressure of 600 breast cancer advocates on Capitol Hill on Tuesday helped compel Majority Leader Reid to bring BCERA to the Senate floor for a second time within a month. Unfortunately, even with hundreds of advocates watching from the Senate gallery, the opposition remained undaunted and Senator Coburn objected to moving forward with the bill. We have a tough battle ahead of us to pass this important piece of legislation that would increase funding to examine the link between breast cancer and the environment. It will take significant resources to increase our efforts, and we need your support. Please make a gift to NBCC to help us continue to mobilize breast cancer activists around the nation to speak up and speak out to end breast cancer. Click here to donate now.

Honoring Eight Members of Congress Who Fought For NBCC This Year

April 30, 2008

A separate, but equally important part of NBCC’s Annual Advocacy Training Conference is Lobby Day, which always takes place the day after the Conference ends. On that day our 600 advocates take Capitol Hill by storm, as they hold hundreds of meetings with their elected representatives and their key staff members, discussing NBCC’s policy and legislative priorities and enlisting their support. The day is an exhilarating and productive experience for everyone who participates.

In the afternoon, NBCC holds its Annual Congressional Awards reception, to honor those Members of Congress whose efforts were especially beneficial this year. This year’s reception took place on Tuesday, April 29th at 4:30 in the Caucus Room of the Russell Senate Office Building (Room 325.) We proudly honored these eight outstanding lawmakers:

Sen. Sherrod BrownSenate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV)
Senator Orin Hatch (R-UT)
Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH)
Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT)
Senator Arlen Specter (R-PA)
Representative Tom Davis (R-VA)
Representative Judy Biggert (R-IL)
Representative Henry Waxman (D-CA)

In addition, the following nine lawmakers are in NBCC’s “Hall of Fame” in recognition of their steadfast leadership in the fight against breast cancer. (Years of induction are noted.)

Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) – 1999
Senator Edward Kennedy (D-MA) – 1999
Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) – 1999
Representative Nita Lowey (D-NY) – 1999
Senator Olympia Snowe (R-ME) – 2001
Representative Anna Eshoo (D-CA) – 2001
Senator Hillary Clinton (D-NY) – 2005
Representative Sue Myrick (R-NC) – 2005
Representative Lois Capps (D-CA)- 2007

Rep. Lois CappsAll these leaders work to ensure that the federal government makes breast cancer a priority and they support substantive polices that will lead to the end of this disease. We are grateful to our honorees for their commitment and vision.

Fran Visco
National Breast Cancer Coalition


April 30, 2008

From the moment we NBCC advocates departed the bus at Peace Circle only to look up at one incredible view of the U.S. Capitol, you knew it was going to be an amazing day. Arriving by the busloads, hundreds of us moved up the hill in waves, some going directly to early appointments scheduled with Members and/or staff in Senate and House Buildings. Others headed to the ROA Building, our base of operations, to meet additional members of the state delegations and put final touches on the day’s gameplan for forwarding the NBCC agenda with our Senators and Representatives at the scheduled appointments.

NBCC Storms the Hill

You can’t imagine how empowering a sight it is just to see the hundreds of women and men wearing their NBCC Lobby Day 2008 badge, walking the halls of Congress and holding more than 420 meetings with Senators, Representatives and/or their staff to press for a thoughtful breast cancer agenda! It’s incredibly moving to see and hear the enthusiasm of advocates returning to the ROA Building and reporting their successes and accomplishments from their meetings. Being a part of it is ABSOLUTELY AMAZING!

Yes it is an exhausting day. But also, it is a day like no other. You have to experience it to know how truly inspiring it is!