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Speak Up and Make a Difference

YSC at the National Breast Cancer Coalition Advocate SummitWhat is an “advocate”? This word has a different meaning to everyone. I became familiar with the term at the national Sierra Club, where I worked for many years. I also learned the importance of using your voice and democratic right to hold your elected officials accountable. Sound easy? Have you ever tried it?

Have you ever been to your state capital and asked to meet with your Representative that you elected? Have you ever been to the U.S. Capitol and talked to your members of Congress about an issue that’s important to you? Most of you I imagine will say, "no," and my question to you is "why not?" Really, why have you never spoken with the person you elected? As a society, why do we hold our local grocery cashier more accountable to give us the correct change for a pack of gum than we do the people we elected to create the laws that govern us?

After being diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 36, I transitioned my career from environmental causes to the breast cancer space. So, it seemed only natural for me to participate in this past weekend’s National Breast Cancer Coalition (NBCC) Advocate Summit in Washington, D.C. (#NBCCSummit)

The NBCC truly is a coalition; it is made up of breast cancer groups from all over the country, which allows them to come together as one united voice to end breast cancer. YSC is a strong member of the NBCC. It is critical that we continue our active participation to ensure that the voice of every young woman with breast cancer is being heard.

Awareness is important. Every day of my life is dedicated to raising awareness. But sometimes you just need to say: "This needs to stop!!! No more women should die!!!" That’s what this past weekend was all about.

Who in the world would not be for ending breast cancer, right? Well, I bet you didn’t know that, right now, there’s a bill under consideration in the U.S. House of Representatives called the Accelerating the End of Breast Cancer Act.

This bill has NO money attached to it. It’s a simple request to set up a committee to ensure we’re able to end breast cancer within the next eight years. In my wildest dreams, I cannot imagine how someone would be unwilling to back this, but, after spending a day on Capitol Hill, it became obvious to me that not all the members of Congress are willing to support women affected by breast cancer and get behind this initiative to end breast cancer by 2020. Amazing!

We’re all frustrated with what’s happening in Washington these days — on so many levels. However, it’s important that we do not let that frustration prohibit or distract us from participating. It’s now more crucial than ever to speak up. Call your Representative or Senator and make sure he or she knows you’re watching and not afraid to hold him or her accountable.

It made me proud to represent YSC on behalf of NBCC this week. I feel energized and inspired to raise my voice on behalf of all young women affected by breast cancer. But, I alone am not loud enough … I need all of you to join me!!!