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Web article by

The GATE

Entertainment Magazine [Jan 28, 2002]
Breast Cancer Prevention & Research

-- New Support Helps Raise Awareness -- 

Almost everyone can name at least one person they know who has battled or died from breast cancer. It's the leading killer for women ages 35 to 55, and 1 in 9 Canadian women will get it sometime in their life - that accounts for 19,000 women in Canada developing it each year, and 5,500 women dying from the disease each year. However, early detection has proven to lead to a 95% survival rate. Because of this, two great efforts have recently become very active in the fight to raise money, awareness, and hopefully - save lives.

One attempt to raise awareness and funds has come from an artist who has helped put together a 12x14 inch fine art calendar, called "Breast of Canada", which includes information, health care tips, and even breast lore and a series of pictures that artfully show the "everyday" woman's breasts in a health context. Most importantly, the calendar encourages women, and teaches them how, to do self-examinations and 40% of the funds raised are going to Breast Cancer Support Services (BCSS) in Burlington, Ontario.

 The calendar is also meant to help lend a positive image and show a healthy perspective on women's breasts by presenting them from a healthy perspective and not as a sexual object. This has actually been a daunting effort that has plagued the promotion of the calendar since many stores, organizations and people have called it "pornographic" and misunderstood the original intentions of the calendar's creator.

For Sue Richards, the producer of the Breast of Canada 2002 calendar, she feels that this was a vital project for her to undertake. "I'm 43 and so far healthy. I abruptly learned that I was doing my BSE wrong and I was shocked. Then scared. Then Angry. This inspired me to do some breast heath and breast cancer research. I discovered that a triad approach to breast health was highly recommended and that early detection of breast cancer is the key to survival."

 On the other side of things is a group called Rethink Breast Cancer, who held their launch party last year to a large group of supporters. Their goal is to also support early detection of breast cancer and raise funds for research, but they are also trying to inspire a younger group of women in the fight against breast cancer. They are trying to do this chiefly though "creative and unconventional means" and using "innovative styles and forms of communication".

Primarily, their goal is to fill the gap in peer-reviewed research by providing "seed funding for innovative projects with potential for high impact and new, up and coming researchers" and to unearth new sources for funding. They also plan to bring people together who have suffered loss because of breast cancer and channel their experiences into positive support and activity for others who may be suffering from breast cancer or women who are anticipating breast cancer.

 Executive Director Mary-Jo DeCoteau was in attendance at the launch party and spoke with the media and other people to help introduce them to the group. She has a Masters Degree in Literary and Cultural Studies and a background in public relations and print media and has been very active to help raise awareness and engage new people in approaching the breast cancer cause. Mary-Jo has also been directly affected by the disease - she lost her mother to the disease and her grandmother had it as well.

Even if you only support one of these campaigns, you're taking a step in the right direction and though they are approaching the cause in slightly different ways, their goals are relatively similar and will almost definitely lead to a difference in the fight against breast cancer.