Exciting news from the Nation’s capital! Members of our Board just attended the National Breast Cancer Coalition’s (NBCC) annual Advocate Leadership Summit in Washington DC, and it was an energizing and jam-packed 3-day event. Almost 200 advocates from all over the U.S. gathered to hear the latest news on cutting-edge research, how women are changing the political landscape, exciting new patient advocate projects, as well as advancing the NBCC’s goal of knowing how to end breast cancer by 2020.
Renowned scientists presented the current status of the Artemis Project, NBCC’s scientific research initiative. Artemis is a sort of think tank that invites brilliant minds from all different sectors to collaborate on out-of-the-box research in the fight against breast cancer. There are two main goals: the prevention of metastasis to stop people dying from the disease and finding ways to prevent it in the first place. Thrillingly, Artemis members told us of the latest progress on a preventative vaccine that has just received pre-IND (Investigational New Drug) status by the FDA for a phase I safety trial. This is an extremely promising venture, however there is still quite a way to go before this vaccine could become a reality in the health care setting.
A vital part of the Summit is the subsequent Lobby Day when advocates visit Congress to inform their representatives of legislation affecting the NBCC’s mission. In preparation, one of the plenary sessions was devoted to how the political agenda is being affected by the increasingly potent women’s movement on both the electoral and grassroots fronts. We heard from the president of the National Women’s Law Center and the vice-president of EMILY’s List, a political action committee dedicated to helping elect pro-choice Democratic female candidates to office. The NBCC’s proposed 2018 legislative priorities include the backing of a new bipartisan bill to waive the lengthy waiting period for metastatic breast cancer patients under the age of 65 until their SSDI and subsequent Medicare coverage kicks in. Countless metastatic women have become financially ruined at the most vulnerable time of their lives because of this bureaucratic delay which, tragically, often exceeds their lifespan.
The Summit is open to all advocates who sign up for NBCC membership, and travel scholarships are available for some registered attendees. We will be bringing you updates once the 2019 Advocate Leadership Summit registration dates are communicated.