Wednesday, September 19, 2012

People of Tomorrow - Take Action Today!

OK my lovely readers... this is some serious stuff I am going to throw your way. So get comfortable, grab a cup of tea and settle in for a bit of information that, if shared beyond this blog, could change lives.

This is about your future. Your family's future. Your friend's, your co-worker's, your neighbour's... Everyone under the blazing sun's future!

You are reading this today because there is real change on the horizon for women's health. And because I'm driven and pumped like heck to help make this change possible.

If you are someone who has been affected directly by breast cancer this is your chance to take action. If you know someone who has been affected by breast cancer (These days almost everyone knows SOMEBODY who has been) this is your chance to help and really, I mean REALLY, make a difference. If you are a guy, stay with me, this affects you and all the women in your life too - so don't think just because you don't have lady parts that you should stop reading... you can help get the word out!

Each and every one of you is needed. And I mean it!

A few numbers and facts for you... Before we get into the thick of it:
  • Breast cancer is the most common cancer among women
  • Today 1 in 8 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime
  • In the 1940s it was 1 in 22
  • Breast cancer is the leading cause of cancer death in women aged 15 - 59
  • In 2005 there were 317 new breast cancer diagnoses between the ages of 20 and 44 in British Columbia, Canada
  • In 2009 there were 1,369 new breast cancer diagnoses between the ages of 15 and 59 in British Columbia, Canada
  • On average, 62 Canadian women are diagnosed with breast cancer each day
  • On average, 14 Canadian women will die of breast cancer each day
  • In 2008, breast cancer caused 458,503 deaths worldwide
  • In 2011, an estimated 230,480 women were diagnosed with invasive breast cancer and 57,650 with non-invasive breast cancer in the United Sates only
  • In 2012, an estimated 22,700 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in Canada. 5,100 will die of it
  • In 2012, an estimated 200 men will be diagnosed with breast cancer in Canada. 55 will die of it
  • A women's risk of breast cancer doubles if she has a first-degree relative (mother, sister, daughter) who has been diagnosed with breast cancer
  • Only 5-10% of breast cancers are inherited and linked to a gene mutation from a parent
  • That means that more than 85% of breast cancers are sporadic
I know it's easy to, but don't just think of these as numbers. Think of them as people. Your aunt. Your mother-in-law. Your best friend's Grandma. Your boss. Your hairstylist. The cashier at the grocery store.Your acquaintances and their acquaintances. Your future children. And your children's children.

Many corporations today are raising money for 'the cause' in hopes to find a cure for this disease. But since the 1970s they have made very little progress. Although the death rate has declined due to advanced screening and early detection, the treatments for this disease have not changed at all. And the incidence rates keep rising. And more people don't always 'beat' this.

They are still doing the same surgeries, the same chemo protocols and same radiation treatments. Slash, burn and poison is how I once heard it being referred as.

So why has there been very little progress? Well, they still are calling this a complex disease. After all of the research done to find this so-called 'cure', they really have not learned too much more about breast cancer.

And yet they are looking for a cure for something they don't even understand yet. *eye roll*

So - What can be done?

There is a group called The Army of Women and I ask that you please take a moment to check out their website.

The Army of Women goal is to recruit one million healthy women of every age and ethnicity, including breast cancer survivors and women at high-risk for the disease, to partner with breast cancer researchers and directly participate in the research that will eradicate breast cancer forever. They are challenging the scientific community to expand the current focus of finding a cure to include prevention research conducted on healthy women (not just women with the disease). They are focusing on research beyond just a cure for this disease. They know that researching for the cure is not the only way to see breast cancer eliminated. They know that prevention and finding out what is causing breast cancer could be the key to a future without it.

Fact: Currently only 5% of funds raised and donated in North America are being used towards PREVENTION research.

Fact: More than 60% of funds raised and donated in North America are being put back into awareness campaigns.

I don't know about you, but when I learned this information (from a great film called Pink Ribbon Inc., a Canadian film that you should totally go download right now) I was pretty angry. Why?

BECAUSE I THINK WE ARE ALL PRETTY DAMN AWARE. You'd have to go to some pretty remote areas of the earth to find someone who is not actually aware and doesn't know what breast cancer is. (I could go on a huge tangent right now about all of the awareness campaigns,misuse and abuse of the pink ribbon and the pink-washing marketing that is undermining breast cancer. But I've got a time limit on this shared computer and need to stay on topic.)

Moving right along...

Many people probably do not know that there is an actual deadline to end breast cancer set for January 1, 2020. This is a challenging goal started by the National Breast Cancer Coalition. It seems like an impossible feat to some but perhaps there really is hope. Perhaps we, the people, can make a difference.

With initiatives out there like Army of Women the goal is looking at the disease from different angles. Not just doing studies on women who have had breast cancer and are being treated for it. But for women who have never had the disease at all. If we could just understand the complexities then maybe the focus will go from finding drugs to cure to eliminating things that cause it. There are already big changes like this happening today but not enough evidence has been made known to consumers for a bigger shift to occur. (more on this later)

Signing up and pledging to be a part of this ground-breaking movement is so important for our future. There are several studies being done that you can check out on the Army of Women website. Both Americans and Canadians are able to participate at no cost. Even if you are not American or Canadian you can still take the pledge and help spread the word... making a huge difference.

Once you sign up you are welcome to take part in many different studies listed on their website. You do not have to participate in ones you don't have time for or don't feel comfortable doing. Just by taking the pledge or sharing this information you are doing something great.

I personally am taking part in the Young Women with Breast Cancer study and feel so proud to be doing so.

I know many people who want to make a difference and want to show their support to people who have been affected by this disease. Instead of purchasing pink ribbon products, instead of donating to corporations who are only putting money towards more awareness campaigns please consider just taking time to share the news about Army of Women. You can also join their group on Facebook for more information. At least stop by and take a look.

My hope is that you will not just go about your day after reading this without doing something. Don't think that you are just one small person and that you are not needed in this effort to find answers. Don't dismiss this. Have an open mind and an open heart to the possibilities. What if you could really make a difference?

If every person who this post reaches would just take 5 minutes of their day to either sign up and take the pledge at or at least share the website with the women that they love and care about... then we could be one step closer to actually seeing some changes and finding answers to this complex disease.

Together there is hope. We can work as a team. A healthier and brighter future may just be possible. After all, there is strength in numbers.Together we can stand up and take action today.

Please join me.


  1. Ashley,
    Babygirl.... I LOVE YOU.... I LOVE YOU......

    You are not only singing my song with Army of Women but (my) tomorrow's blog is about Pink Ribbons Inc.

    FYI-I will be at the Avon Walk in NYC when the walkers are registering. Army of Women has a table and hopefully I will be signing up many many MANY women.

    I am SO THRILLED you joined that study! Research research research..... Excellent blogpost!


    1. Thanks AnneMarie! You're too sweet... I LOVE YOU TOO!

      Great that you are doing the table at the Avon walk. We need more ladies on board!

      Much love xo

  2. Hi Ashley! Great blog post!

    Thanks so much for stopping by my blog and leaving some love :) It is so crazy to hear of more and more 26/27/28 yr olds being diagnosed the further I get into this journey. I'm sorry to hear about your upcoming radiation, but I hope it goes well and is complication free. I am excited to read all about your egg retrieval and freezing as this is something I longed to do but my dr would not consent :(

    keep fighting the good fight!! Love your new wig :)


    1. Hi Anne,

      Yes it is wild how many of us there are. It is not right! I hope one day scientists will be able to better understand WHY it is happening more and more now to younger women as well.

      Hugs to you.

  3. You are great and yes wie can! Thanks for this post

  4. YOU are GREAT!! xo

    Lots of love to you darlin'

  5. Hi Ashley, I found your blog through the Army of Women website. Like you, I was diagnosed at 28 years old with breast cancer. (Ok, I was 27, but it was my birthday the following week. . .so basically 28.) It’s mind boggling that only 5% of fundraising goes toward prevention research. Keep up your great advocacy work! ~Catherine

    1. Hi Catherine

      Thanks so much for your note... 28 is the magic number for many of us it seems! It IS crazy that prevention research has been overlooked as much as it has.

      I have been meaning to pop over to the Facing Cancer Together website ever since I started following it on twitter... You are canadian as well, correct?

      Thanks for stopping by! :)

      - Ashley