The October Pink Tsunami has descended again and, with it, the jockeying for attention between various breast cancer advocacy groups and nonprofits. However, when one organization starts pointing fingers at another, it seems that the rose-colored haze has obscured the true enemy…breast cancer. Breast Cancer awareness month has not always existed. It was begun in 1985 as a partnership between the American Cancer Society and the pharmaceutical company, AstraZeneca, with the goal of promoting breast self-exam and mammography. This was a time when women did not talk about breast cancer and treatments were less successful than they are today. The National Association of Breast Cancer Organizations (NABCO) helped spearhead the nascent movement, which consolidated as the women who grew up in the sixties started to be diagnosed with the disease, and took to political action to accelerate progress into more effective treatments. Many of the current organizations date back to those days including Susan G. Komen, the National Breast Cancer Coalition, and Breast Cancer Action. Since then, many others have popped up, focused on specific groups–men, Latinas, African Americans, young women, and types or stages of breast cancer, including metastatic disease, triple negative breast cancer, and inflammatory breast cancer. These groups are necessary, important, and effective in their areas of focus, contributing to patient support public awareness and science. In addition, many companies agree that supporting breast cancer research and awareness is good politics and good business. Sometimes these well-meaning efforts, such as the recent pink drilling bits for the cure, can appear misguided, but that does not mean that the people who donated the money had nefarious motives or that the money will not be well spent. As we all compete for the public’s attention and dollars, we sometimes forget that this is not a race with just one winner; it is a team sport. There are many ways we can save the lives of women and men with breast cancer, whether it be by helping them get diagnosed and appropriately treated, or by focusing on research into possible causes, be they environmental, lifestyle, or genetic. There is no lack of areas that need money and serious study. For example, we don’t even know the anatomy of the ducts in the breast or exactly how breast cancer starts! When the NFL is wearing pink, it’s pretty clear that, collectively, we have achieved awareness. We need all the organizations with their different perspectives to focus on their missions while joining in a collaborative effort to find the cause and ways to prevent breast cancer. Because the end goal, a future without breast cancer, is one we all can agree on.

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