President Clinton Joins Breast Cancer Deadline 2020 as Honorary Chair of NBCC's Global Campaign

Former President Bill Clinton, center, poses with Indiana Democratic Senate candidate Joe Donnelly, left, and Indiana Democra
Former President Bill Clinton, center, poses with Indiana Democratic Senate candidate Joe Donnelly, left, and Indiana Democratic gubernatorial candidate John Gregg, right, before Clinton spoke at "Hoosier Common Sense" rally in Indianapolis, Friday, Oct. 12, 2012. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

Not long after we launched the National Breast Cancer Coalition, it was time to elect a new president for the country. That was the fall of 1992. As we always do, we reached out to the candidates to bring them our message about ending breast cancer. And we heard from one of them. We were invited to a meeting with then-candidate Bill Clinton to talk about health issues. Due to a conflict, he was represented that day by Hillary Clinton. And a great relationship began, one that would prove to be exceedingly beneficial to all women and men who care about breast cancer. Over the next eight years, we had the incredible opportunity to work with a President and First Lady who demonstrated true leadership and commitment to ending breast cancer. Former President Bill Clinton's dedication to NBCC's mission began before his administration and continues to the present time.

I am extraordinarily pleased to announce that President Bill Clinton will serve as the Honorary Chair of Breast Cancer Deadline 2020®. President Clinton's understanding of the issues and his proven ability to bring people together to work toward a common vision will be vital to our success as we convene and coordinate stakeholders from around the world to focus on Breast Cancer Deadline 2020® and the plan of action to end breast cancer.

In 1993, backed by 2.6 million signatures, NBCC urged the Clinton Administration to create a National Action Plan on Breast Cancer, an innovative collaboration of government, science, private industry and advocates. President Clinton established the group and asked me to co-chair the Plan's implementation. He worked with NBCC on the Department of Defense (DOD) Breast Cancer Research Program (BCRP) and key legislation such as the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) Breast and Cervical Cancer Treatment Act, which have had an enormous impact on breast cancer research and on women's lives. President Clinton continues to work tirelessly today toward improving standards of health around the globe.

In 2005, President Clinton and the National Breast Cancer Coalition launched the Virginia Clinton Kelley Fund at NBCC to honor the memory of President Clinton's mother, who died of breast cancer in 1994. The Virginia Clinton Kelley Fund pays tribute to a woman whose life exemplified the vision and strength to overcome seemingly insurmountable odds to achieve her goals, and who embodied the grassroots spirit of the National Breast Cancer Coalition. The Fund supports NBCC's educational programs that train breast cancer survivors to influence research and public policy, foster innovation in research and health care, and expand access to quality care. This fund also supports collaborations among women with breast cancer, researchers and health care stakeholders.

From the beginning, NBCC and President Clinton have shared a common goal: a world without breast cancer. We understand that vision, urgency, unwavering focus and creative collaboration under true leadership are the key ingredients for achieving that goal. The success of Breast Cancer Deadline 2020® requires that leaders in government, industry and all areas embrace the deadline with courage and conviction and make ending this disease a priority. NBCC applauds President Clinton for demonstrating that leadership once again by joining the campaign as the Honorary Chair.

To achieve Breast Cancer Deadline 2020®, we must change the public global conversation about breast cancer from awareness and screening to prevention and saving lives. We are focused on areas that aren't getting attention but would help end the disease -- primary prevention (stopping women from getting breast cancer), and understanding and preventing metastasis (the spread of cancer), which is responsible for 90 percent of breast cancer deaths.

We know NBCC cannot achieve the deadline alone. We will continue to point the way, create and facilitate collaborations, formulate and implement plans of action and identify and push for the policies needed. But ultimately, success will depend upon those outside NBCC -- leaders, researchers, public officials, the philanthropic and funding community, breast cancer advocates and the general public.

That collaboration will include a Global Campaign Committee of individuals who are leaders in their field and/or community and are committed to ending breast cancer by January 1, 2020. The committee will meet biennially to oversee the progress of the Campaign, develop strategies and provide counsel. They also will help NBCC expand support for the campaign through strategies to generate resources, engage new leadership and involve others around the globe in the deadline plan.

To date, more than 200 organizations have endorsed the campaign. And leaders from the business world, medical community and other areas have supported Breast Cancer Deadline 2020®. Success in reaching our shared goal of ending breast cancer will depend upon the right amount of passion, leadership and funding. President Clinton's leadership as Honorary Chair of our global campaign positions us well for continued success and serves as a call to other leaders--from all sectors and stakeholder groups--to join us in our movement. Together we will end breast cancer.