September has brought a few changes to the Dr. Susan Love Research Foundation. Heather Cooper Ortner, who served as our CEO for more than 3 years, has left to head the Alzheimer’s Greater Los Angeles team. Heather’s imprint is seen throughout the Foundation from the website to the research program, and especially the Metastatic Breast Cancer Collateral Damage Project. We will miss her steady guidance.
Our development department has also seen changes. The exciting news is that Danese Bardot has joined us as Development Director ably assisted by Jackie Alm who has been promoted to Manager, Annual Giving. The rest of the team is intact and working hard as we head towards October and Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
I have become more and more aware of the disparities in breast cancer research. We know a lot about risk factors, genetics and outcomes in Caucasian women but much less in women of color, Latinas, Asians, Native Americans and all the variations in between. Our push for this October is to increase the diversity of the Army of Women® in an attempt to make sure that everyone is represented. We can’t complain that no one is studying us, if we don’t raise our hands and agree to be studied!
For example, recent studies have shown that some Latina women in Los Angeles have a BRCA mutation that traces back to the Aztecs in Mexico, while some African American women have the same BRCA mutations found in West Africa, both different than the one found more commonly in Jewish women in the U.S. This is the type of important information that only comes when you diversify the population being studied. Who knows what else may be different. Could certain ethnicities be more likely to develop side effects or collateral damage than others? We won’t know unless we look. And researchers won’t look unless we make it easy for them. A diversified Army of Women would be a good start! So look for our Commit to Love Campaign launching October 2 and share it widely! We can be the generation that ends breast cancer, but it will take all of us to do it!