As parents of daughters, we try to inspire them to achieve anything they want in life. My husband and I have started early to point out they could become doctors or ministers or scientists. Or, as my youngest has alternately described, both a mommy and a veterinarian who also dances ballet. Like most middle class kids, their chances are pretty good that with hard work and a little support they can achieve some measure of success in life.
I don't like their lifetime odds of getting breast cancer, and I want to protect my daughters from that reality about their future. Currently women stand a one in eight chance of having breast cancer and we certainly don't need a family history of it to be concerned. I'm bracing against the chance of early puberty predisposing my girls to an even higher risk for the disease.
Mothers concerned about their children's future, adult children who've lost a parent to cancer, and even cancer survivors are gathered this week for a Climb Against the Odds
up Northern California's Mount Shasta. More than two dozen women are finding the physical and emotional strength to tackle the 14,000-foot elevation in their hope of preventing breast cancer.
The Breast Cancer Fund's
Nancy Buermeyer says we have an epidemic of breast cancer in this country. "And we can’t explain those high numbers just from genetics or lifestyle. The science has shown there’s a strong link between many chemicals and increased risk of breast cancer." Buermeyer helps the organization focus on its mission of preventing breast cancer from a public policy standpoint. Other professionals on staff include scientists who sort through peer reviewed studies and write evidence-based reports about environmental causes of the disease. The easy-to-navigate website provides user friendly consumer information for getting many toxic chemicals out of our homes.
Buermeyer describes the Climb Against the Odds as a once-in-a-lifetime experience that connects people from all walks of life for the common goal of preventing cancer. "Certainly all of us know someone who's been affected by cancer," relates Buermeyer. You can read the touching personal stories of this year's climbers at the Breast Cancer Fund blog. They need our support this week, and hopefully their efforts will better the odds of prevention for all of our children.