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Announcing the Breast Cancer Consortium!

The Breast Cancer Consortium is an international network of educators, researchers, artists, analysts, health practioners, advocates, and others working to change the conversation on breast cancer. We examine public discourse, trends in awareness campaigns, the competing interests of advocacy groups and the medical system, the impact of commercialization, and other issues relating to the social and cultural factors that impact this disease.

BCC formed in October 2012 with a group of professionals committed to research and social change. As a medical sociologist, I had already spent the last decade working with many of them on breast cancer related issues and projects, both academically and in advocacy. Formalizing our partnership was a logical next step.

Rachel Cheetham Moro, breast cancer blogger and former accountant, was on the ground floor of brainstorming about the organization. Rachel died from stage 4 breast cancer one year ago today. In a tribute to her legacy, BCC member Lani Horn has written a review of The Cancer Culture Chronicles, a compilation of Rachel's blog posts in book form.

We also pay tribute to BCC founding member and international partner Marie-Laurence Waldelöf who died of breast cancer on December 25, 2012. Marie-Laurence was a member of “Au sein de sa différence” [Within our differences] in Paris, France. ASDSD developed a communications campaign called “Questions Roses” (Pink Questions) to spur discussion of pink ribbon culture in France. As our first collaboration the campaign included a dialogue between french senologist-oncologist Dr. Dominique Gros and me. Marie-Laurence did the translations.

Losing two foundational members in such a short time is difficult for a fledgling organization to absorb. Yet it is a sobering reality for those of us who are working in the cancer world. It is also the fuel that ignites our passion for change. We honor Rachel and Marie-Laurence as we continue to develop new ways of thinking about breast cancer, collaborating with change agents, and developing evidence-based resources that will make a difference.

Take a look at BCC's website, essays, and materials. If you like what you see, please forward our newsletter to your colleagues and friends. If you have any questions for us or ideas about how the Breast Cancer Consortium can help you and your communities to change the breast cancer paradigm, please contact us by emailing me at gayle.sulik@breastcancerconsortium.net.

Onwards and Upwards!

Gayle A. Sulik, PhD (founder and executive director)

“Pink Ribbons, Inc.” Screening and Panel Discussion for International Women’s Day on March 5th, 2013

The NGender Seminar Series at the University of Sussex has teamed up with Breast Cancer Consortium member Ana Porroche-Escudero and Grazia de Michele to co-host a special session on Breast Cancer Awareness to celebrate International Women’s Day. A screening of "Pink Ribbons, Inc." followed by a Panel Discussion and Q&A will be held March 5th from 7:00PM – 10:00PM at Komedia Brighton. Open to the public. More »

Film Review - "Pink Ribbons, Inc."

Pink Ribbons, Inc.  –  both the book by Samantha King and the 98-minute documentary of the same name by Léa Pool -  helped to open many people’s eyes to breast cancer as the “poster child” for cause related marketing, “girlie” culture, and exploitation of a good cause by corporations and charities alike. What do viewers think about the film? Check out this synopsis from London. More »

Where does the money go? An Interview with sociologist, Dr. Samantha King

Is breast cancer advocacy more focused on fundraising, fitness, and consumption-oriented empowerment than it is on changing the status quo on breast cancer? Samantha King, author of Pink Ribbons, Inc., shares her perspectives with BCC. More »

A compelling look at metastatic breast cancer, Photo-Documentary by Angelo Merendino

Witnessing the realities of cancer can be too much to bear. But unless we as a society are willing to see cancer for what it is, will we truly understand it? Angelo Merendino began documenting his wife Jen as she went through treatment for metastatic breast cancer. His pictures eventually came together as a photo-documentary called, “The Battle We Didn’t Choose: My Wife’s Fight With Breast Cancer.” More »


A Collection of Merendino's photographs will be on display March 1-3 in at Tabula Rasa, 731 8th St. SE, Washington DC 20003. Opening reception, Friday (3/1) from 5:00 PM – 7:30 PM. This event is open to the public. Admission is free. For more information call 410-739-4048 or go to www.metavivor.org.

The METAvivor ~ Merendino Gallery Exhibition displays photographic studies of women moving forward with their lives in the face of stage IV breast cancer. Presented by METAvivor Research and Support with the goal of advancing awareness of stage IV breast cancer and the need for further research. More »

What's the matter with those sexy breast cancer campaigns?

In a post I wrote for Psychology Today (Nov. 21, 2012) I asked, “Do Sexy Breast Cancer Campaigns Demean Women?“ The answer was "yes." I identified six sexually objectifying techniques used to get attention, raise money, and lure people to the Cause. Sexual objectification is the means to an end. But since advertising is an applied form of persuasion, the ends are not likely to include active thinking about breast cancer. More »

Cancer advocacy in the virtual world

The advent of Web 2.0 changed almost everything – yet absolutely nothing – about the cancer experience. What hasn’t changed is the near universal shock, dismay and fear that most women experience when they first hear, ”your tumor was malignant.” What hasn’t changed is the long journey through treatment, which can range from multiple surgeries to include chemotherapy, radiation and even years of hormone therapy. But what has changed? More »

IOM report on breast cancer and the environment

A 2011 report from the Institute of Medicine (IOM), Breast Cancer and the Environment: A Life Course Approach, examines the existing literature about breast cancer risk posed by various environmental factors, highlights actions that offer potential to reduce risk, and recommends key areas for future research. The million-dollar report, sponsored by Susan G. Komen for the Cure, confirmed what we already know--that there is a body of evidence suggesting environmental links to breast cancer. More »


BCC highlights research studies that bridge social science, culture, and medicine as it relates to breast cancer.

"Overselling mammography"

Researchers criticize Komen for the Cure for exaggerating and distorting medical information, arguing that, “there is a big mismatch between the strength of evidence in support of screening and the strength of Komen’s advocacy for it.” Komen’s 2011 advertising campaign “simply tells women to get screened, overstates the benefit of mammography and ignores harms altogether.” More »

Source: “How a charity oversells mammography“ in the British Medical Journal [2012, 345].

"Politics of Breast Cancer Advocacy"

Breast cancer groups do not share the same interests or agree on strategies, but it wasn’t until the Komen-Planned Parenthood debacle that the political undercurrents of breast cancer advocacy surfaced in the mainstream. More »

Source: “The Komen–Planned Parenthood Controversy: Bringing the Politics of Breast Cancer Advocacy to the Forefront” in Women’s Health Issues [2012, 22-6].

"The Right Trials"

Patricia S. Steeg, chief of the Center for Cancer Research at the National Cancer Institute, argues that unless clinical trials are redesigned we are not likely to see a decline in breast cancer metastasis. Clinical trials are only designed to evaluate a drug’s ability to shrink established tumors rather than its ability to block metastatic processes. Because there is more to cancer than tumor growth, those who are at a high risk of recurrence or have limited metastatic disease may gain greater benefit from drugs that keep cancer cells from entering the bloodstream, surviving in circulation, affecting the immune system, or invading other tissues and distant organs than they would from drugs focused only on tumor shrinkage. More »

Source: "Perspective: The Right Trials" in Nature [2012, 485].