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Thoughts on shifting the focus from breast cancer education to ovarian cancer education

by on April 20, 2012

I have an interesting tidbit to share today. It raised a few questions for me, and I’d love to hear what you think about it as well.

When the Susan G. Komen/Planned Parenthood controversy was in the news earlier this year, there was a quote from Nancy Brinker of Komen that really jumped out at me. Although I don’t want to dive into the controversy itself today, I did want to share that quote with you.

In an interview with Nancy Mitchell on MSNBC, Brinker suggested that Komen was shifting its focus away from grants to provide education about breast cancer. She stated, “Many of the grants were education oriented. We don’t need to do that kind of education anymore. We’ve done it for 30 years.” (To watch this portion of the interview, watch this video starting at the 6:35 mark. The transcript is here.)

That quote really stuck with me… it was almost startling to hear this admission. (The truth of the statement in the Planned Parenthood context is up for debate – some have noted that many other grants were education-based and did not receive the same scrutiny that Planned Parenthood did. Again, that’s a topic for another day.)

Is Brinker right? Is there no longer a need for breast cancer education? Has awareness become so widespread that it’s time to shift focus away from breast cancer education to research?

Whether the answer to those questions is a yes or a no – what does this mean for ovarian cancer? In my mind, a statement like that supports the idea that it’s time to turn the focus to ovarian cancer education. One tactic? Working ovarian cancer information into the conversation about breast cancer. Considering the fact that there is a genetic link between the two types, it doesn’t seem like a bad place to start.

I’ll be circling back to this train of thought in future posts. However, I’d be interested to hear your thoughts on this topic. How can we increase awareness and education about ovarian cancer?

Finally, a few related tidbits…

I thought this opinion piece in The Washington Post provided an interesting take. The author discusses what it’s like to have a less publicized form of cancer (ovarian) and shares her thoughts on Komen’s mission. Another article from USA Today notes how the pink ribbon has overshadowed other types of cancers.

-A.J.

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