Time to Get to the Real Work of Ending Breast Cancer

This past October, the National Breast Cancer Coalition highlighted our longtime theme of "action, not awareness" during Breast Cancer Awareness Month and challenged everyone to take the actions needed to help end breast cancer. To be frank, I am not a fan of Breast Cancer Awareness Month. I do not think we need to make anyone else aware that breast cancer is a problem; I think we need to end this disease.

We are approaching the start of a new year, which means we are 10 months away from October. Should we wait until we reach yet another pink-filled awareness month to take the actions needed to end breast cancer? Absolutely not. We need to take those actions every single day. Because as we are all "aware," breast cancer takes lives every one of the other 334 days of the year.

If you are looking for more than a pink product that dedicates a small portion of proceeds (or none at all) to breast cancer research, this is for you. You can -- and should -- take actions with bigger impacts. Here are actions everyone can take, from the quickest to most time-intensive.

We need everyone to be a part of Breast Cancer Deadline 2020, our bold goal of knowing how to end breast cancer by Jan. 1, 2020. Take the first action and learn how you can help us get there by signing up for our National Action Network. You will receive regular updates on our progress, calls to action when we need the Network to mobilize around a particular issue and materials to help you dispel myths and spread the message of what we need to end breast cancer. You can decide how little or how much you want to engage as part of our network.

Even more pressed for time? You can still be a part of ending breast cancer. Engage with your federal elected officials from the convenience of your laptop, tablet or phone. NBCC has bipartisan legislation called the Accelerating the End of Breast Cancer Act designed to make Breast Cancer Deadline 2020 a reality. See if your Senator or Representative is a cosponsor of the Accelerating the End of Breast Cancer Act and if not; send them a letter explaining why we need their support. You can send a letter directly from our website. Send one to your U.S. Senators here and to your U.S. Representative here. You can also engage with your elected officials through Facebook or Twitter.

Are you already involved in a breast cancer organization or are you a leader in your local community? Do you want to become a leader in the movement to end breast cancer? We want to train more outstanding leaders dedicated to ending breast cancer at our Annual Advocate Leadership Summit. Held in Washington, D.C. each spring, attendees get unparalleled training and presentations on the latest information about breast cancer research, public policy and quality health care. Leading scholars, researchers and experts in their fields attend the Summit to present cutting-edge research and relevant controversies. The opportunity to network with other leaders sharing the same mission is without equal. The combination of high-quality programming, innovative sessions and just-in-time leadership skills enable attendees to return to their communities ready to carry out the work of Breast Cancer Deadline 2020.

If you want to become an advocate educated in the science of breast cancer who can hold their own with scientists, government and industry officials, you should apply for our world-renowned Project LEAD science training program. The Project LEAD Institute is a six-day intensive course in the science of breast cancer, where advocates study molecular biology, genetics, mutations, epidemiology, research design and much more. Advocates with the critical ability to ask the right questions and work alongside scientists to help focus research are a crucial part of the strategy for achieving the mission of Breast Cancer Deadline 2020.

Let's forget about Breast Cancer Awareness Month. No more pink, no more "awareness" that does not get us anywhere in the fight against breast cancer. Every single one of us can take an action today to help end breast cancer. What will you do?