Marisa Renee Lee, founder and president of The Pink Agenda, talks about the goals of The Pink Agenda in connection to breast cancer.
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Marisa Renee Lee: I hope that we are able to raise a substantial amount of money and a substantial amount of awareness both about this is, what’s best in terms of support and these are the best doctors. These are the best researchers. This is the latest breast cancer trial that’s going on that if your mom’s been diagnosed with this stage, you should look into it or if your aunt has this, you should look into that. I hope for us to really make an impact both in terms of spreading these resources around and raising awareness about the things that you can do to try to prevent a breast cancer diagnosis because it’s not like a lung cancer where it’s so directly linked to smoking but there are things that you can do in terms of diet, attitude, lifestyle adjustments that can help decrease the incidence rate of breast cancer. My hope is that and I really want us to raise a ton of money and invest it in individuals who are doing the best research and direct care services programs who are helping people as efficiently as they possibly can. If you look at the rate of diagnosis versus the rate of breast cancer death, the rate of diagnosis is much higher in Caucasian American women but the rate of breast cancer death is much higher amongst African-American and Latina women primarily because of the socioeconomics of the issue. Cancer is really expensive. Even with insurance, cancer is incredibly, incredibly expensive. My hope is that we’re able to support the programs that help keep these women who are underinsured or uninsured from dying because really at this point, you shouldn’t be dying from breast cancer if you live in the United States of America, as far as I’m concerned or most western European countries. We have the medicines. We’ve done the research. It should be caught when it’s a teeny, tiny lump in your breast and it should either be removed or you should be getting radiation or chemotherapy, some combination and you should be okay. Breast cancer shouldn’t be killing 144,000 American women every year. That’s ridiculous. What misconceptions exist about breast cancer? Marisa Renee Lee: I think some of the misperceptions or misconceptions are that it’s going away which it is but it’s not gone and because it’s so well marketed. Breast cancer is kind of a cool disease to raise money for lack of a better term. There’s nothing cool about breast cancer obviously. There’s nothing cool about the fact that we’re coming up on Mother’s Day weekend and I don’t have a mom and I’m only 25 and my sister’s 22. There’s nothing cool about that but at the end of the day during the month of October, you can’t walk into a store without finding 10 different pink things to buy and I feel that because it’s been so well marketed and I just feel like the PR on breast cancer is so positive and there’s pink everywhere and this and that. People think that there is enough money but there’s never enough money until there’s a cure and until people aren’t dying from the disease, there isn’t enough money. The other thing is unfortunately, and this was a big piece in, I can’t remember if it was Time or Newsweek now this past October, breast cancer is going global as the U.S. continues to go global and with globalization unfortunately, comes some of these negative, unexpected consequences and as our habits and some of our lifestyle habits get spread around the globe as we exchange business and whatever across the globe, so do some of our diseases and unfortunately, in other countries, breast cancer isn’t a cool thing to have. In a country like India, you are ostracized. It’s connected to you being female. In places in Africa and in the Middle East, they think that you shouldn’t touch your children. Your husband could potentially leave you if he learns that you have breast cancer. Not only do they not have access to the same resources that we do in terms of medicine, research and treatment options but in a lot of these countries, they aren’t screening for it. They ar