Our advocacy summits and programs, along with many other cancer advocacy groups around the world, have enabled women to connect to other cancer survivors, to learn how early detection could save their lives, to take control of their medical care, and to shake the stigma of a cancer diagnosis.
Women’s cancer awareness and education is also essential to changing public policy and increasing funding to bring the best treatments and technologies to the clinic where they can be of most use, while respecting the resources and cultural attitudes of a given region.
The advent of patient advocates
In many countries around the world, a breast cancer advocacy movement came later or not at all. When WE CAN co-founder Dr. Julie Gralow first visited Ukraine in 1997, she found that many times doctors there did not even reveal to breast cancer patients their actual diagnosis. Dr. Gralow and her colleagues, in a project coordinated by PATH, worked with a group of Ukrainian clinicians to develop ways to speak with their patients openly about breast cancer; this new approach and the group’s other educational work quickly caught on in the country and spurred several more breast cancer advocacy efforts. In just two years, from 1999 to 2001, the number of breast cancer support groups in Ukraine increased from zero to 15.