Focusing on Growth
By Holly Anderson, Executive Director
Summer is the season of growth and renewal. We see it in our gardens and window boxes. We see it in farm fields as we travel back and forth between cities. We see it in our children… our families… our friends… circles ever expanding, widening, and evolving.
Growth is my focus these days as well.
During these past two years, COVID has caused some of our favorite in-person events to be canceled or postponed, including our research award ceremonies, legislative receptions, and holiday gatherings. As events slowly return in a scaled-back way, we have found that many of our steady, beloved committee members have moved on; some have retired permanently to southern states. We have especially noted this on our Advocacy and Research Committees. These changes remind us that such evolution is always an opportunity to welcome new voices, fresh ideas, and diverse experiences to the table.
By Summer 2021, the median age of members of both our Advocacy and Research Committees was greater than 65 years. These dedicated advocates have a wealth of experience that would be lost if we didn’t address the obvious; we realized it was essential to narrow the age disparity as these long-established committee members retired and moved on. I began noodling on an idea for a training program that would prepare our young breast cancer survivors for leadership roles within the Coalition.
After discussions with our most experienced survivor-advocates, I confirmed their eagerness to help prepare the next generation of survivors for leadership. This meant actively recruiting and training younger survivors – of which, sadly, we had plenty.
In January, we launched our Emerging Leaders Program (ELP), funded by the Marilyn Lichtman Foundation. My goal was to recruit eight young survivors and pair them up with eight experienced mentors from our Advocacy and Research Committees. Ultimately, we exceeded my goal. The cover of this issue features photos of our ELP participants, both trainees and mentors.
In May, following training programs developed and conducted over the winter and spring months, five trainees and five mentors, along with four other trained survivor-advocates, traveled to Washington DC to attend a four-day Leadership Summit offered by NBCC. This annual summit brought together the top breast oncologists and scientific researchers in the country where we learned the latest developments toward ending breast cancer. Additionally, at the end of the third day, these experts made themselves available for roundtable discussions with interested summit participants. This was one of the most exciting and engaging opportunities for our emerging leaders. On the fourth and final day, we traveled to Capitol Hill to share personal stories with the key staff members of our elected representatives. Here we were joined by other survivor advocates as our team leaders asked for support for research, screening and early detection programs, and the Metastatic Breast Cancer Access to Care Act.** We left deeply satisfied that seven out of eight of our regional representatives are fully on board.
Keep growing. Keep changing. Keep learning. Keep evolving. Keep fighting. Keep succeeding.
** Eliminates the waiting period for disability and Medicare benefits for those of any age with metastatic breast cancer.