Fighting Breast Cancer

Fighting Breast Cancer


The California Breast Cancer Research Program
was envisioned to be a leader in innovation and new directions of breast cancer research
from the day it was founded. From the very beginning, the California Breast Cancer Research
Program has included advocates and survivors in all of its decision-making and in its scientific
peer review. There�s no other program in the country I know that takes advocacy involvement
to this level. They are there to ensure that the design, the development, the implementation
and the dissemination of research findings feed back into communities to improve the
health and breast cancer rates of communities across the state. As a breast cancer researcher,
I�ve been very concerned about the influence of environment on our community�s health
and CBCRP has been so unique because they launched the special cancer research initiative
to focus in this area. One of the things the California Breast Cancer Research Program
has tried to do over the last twenty years is bring new people with new ideas and new
approaches into the field of breast cancer research. Meg Schwarzman was not a breast
cancer researcher before she met us, but we developed a project that we thought would
be very important to the world of breast cancer and she�s one of the people that we reached
out to to say we need a certain piece of work done; can you do that work for us? So, I�m
associate director of the Berkeley Center for Green Chemistry here on campus and it�s
an interdisciplinary center that brings together law and policy and chemistry and chemical
health and natural resources. The objective was to really fit into some changes in chemicals�
policy that were anticipated to be coming down the pipe; both California and nationally
that would increase the amount of testing that would be done for chemicals. And the
objective was to fit into those in such a way that as chemical testing increased, we
made sure that we were testing chemicals in such a way to discover those that might contribute
to breast cancer. It is important to think about occupations because there are some chemically-intensive
ones. As researchers, we really rely on the people who are doing the outreach to affected
communities to transmit the message. Every day our community health workers go door-to-door,
they go into beauty salons, temples, churches � wherever the community is to educate them
about breast health and overall health care, how to access it, to dispel any myths and
make sure that they�re getting anything that they need. Prior to the California BCRP
there was very little research going on around Asian and Pacific Islander women and breast
cancer. There was a lot of misunderstandings or myths that were going on in the community,
women were not getting screened. The research that we were able to do in partnership with
many researchers really helped us to get the word out and to get education out. Find out
which interventions would work with the community. Without BCRP, we�d never be able to do that.
I�m not the only one who says this, but I say it with my whole heart: I hope we put
ourselves out of business. It keeps us hard at work every day � saying what can we do
more of, what can we do better?

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