By: Dorothy Gibbons, CEO & Co-Founder
When The Rose began in the mid-80s, saying “breasts” during a television or radio interview was uncomfortable and quasi-forbidden. Dancing around trying to describe the importance of having mammograms for early detection without emphasizing “breasts” was quite a feat.
That was the first thing I thought when a reporter recently asked me: “What is different now than in 1986 when The Rose started?” My standard answer to that question is “Better mammography technology, better-personalized treatment, and higher survival rates.”
On that day, I had to pause.
It’s true that today’s 3D mammography is indeed far superior to the xeromammograms of the ’80s. Equally valid is that treatment regimens have had incredible advantages over the past options. Currently, there are 3.8 million breast cancer survivors in the US due to these advances in medicine and mammography, but that’s not the only reason.
Back in 1986, few women had ever heard of a mammogram, much less had one. Many believed they were safe because they didn’t hurt, had not found a lump in their breast or had no ‘history of breast cancer’ in their family. They were surprised to learn that there was history, but no one talked about an aunt, grandmother, or cousin being diagnosed. Myths about symptoms were ramped. For many, having breast cancer was more of an embarrassment than anything else they were going through.
So, what changed?
Women began talking about their breasts.
A few courageous women dared to share their stories and suddenly, thousands of women had permission to talk about their breasts. That freedom wasn’t limited to those women who had been diagnosed but also to all the others, the caregivers, family members and friends, who had watched the devastation of that disease in someone they loved.
Today, we have support groups and networks, we participate in walks or runs, and local and national fundraisers, but most of all, we, as women, TALK. We advocate for better detection and treatment; we share the losses and celebrate every – moment of the day – the successes.
But the work is far from over. Until every woman, regardless of race or ethnicity, insured or uninsured, young or old, understands the importance of early detection, we have work to do.
We need to keep talking and that’s what our program, Let’s Talk About Your Breasts, is all about.
Talking with women about their bodies is something The Rose has done since our beginning, and that talk is needed now more than ever before.
Saving lives one discussion at a time.