Anniversaries are a time to celebrate, reflect, remember years past and to be hopeful for the future. New Year’s is always a nostalgic time for FORCE, as it is for many people, but the upcoming holiday is especially auspicious, because FORCE and our hereditary cancer community will turn 20! After two decades of raising awareness, we’ve proven that knowledge is power and information saves lives. We’ve established the identity and the needs of the hereditary cancer community. We’ve made unprecedented progress in educating the community and others. By advocating and forging meaningful partnerships, we’ve positively influenced legislation for our community, while establishing the need for research that includes the hereditary cancer population and securing much-needed enrollment in clinical trials.
FORCE is fueled by generous donors, caring volunteers and a devoted staff. All of us, along with our community, owe a huge debt of gratitude to one very special person: our founder, Sue Friedman. FORCE is now the de facto voice of the hereditary cancer community, but it sprang from humble beginnings. Recovering from breast cancer in 1999, Sue decided to forego her veterinary career to start a nonprofit organization on New Year’s Day. She was a staff of one; with a goal to make meaningful changes in information, education and research that improve the lives of individuals and families facing hereditary cancer. This New Year’s Day, we’ll reflect on our progress during the past 20 years, and remember that goal that still guides us. We’ve come so far and have accomplished so much, but there is still much to do.
Thank you, Sue, for your leadership, vision and all that you have done and continue to do to recognize the needs of our community. And many grateful thanks to each of you for being a part of FORCE and helping to build our community. Our great hope for the next 20 years is that research and medical advances will provide even better answers and options for those who live with hereditary cancer or its risk.
In the meantime, a few of us at FORCE would like to share our thoughts. Read on and celebrate with us as we continue to do our best to ensure that no one faces their hereditary cancer journey alone.
Every Voice Matters
As the numbers of hereditary cancer survivors and previvors grow, so does the need for public policies that recognize our needs. FORCE is the only patient advocacy organization dedicated to representing the unique interests of our community to elected officials, regulators and insurers. We continue to champion the interests of our community, and great things are on the horizon, so perhaps you’ll lend us your voice. Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Nicholas Kristof said: “We can think about charities in the context of delivering services, and indeed that is part of their job, but advocacy is also getting governments to step up to the plate. They can also give more voice to those who don't have one.”
Lisa Schlager, Vice President of Community Affairs & Public Policy
You Don’t Know What You Don’t Know
The phrase, “You don’t know what you don’t know,” cannot ring truer than for those of us who are predisposed to cancer. Unlike many other diseases, knowing that you have hereditary cancer or a high risk for it can lead to lifesaving decisions—knowledge really is power! Perhaps you’ll share your knowledge to give someone else the opportunity to have a lifesaving “ah-ha” moment that cancer may run in their family. As Benjamin Franklin reminded us, “An investment in knowledge pays the best interest.”
Karen Kramer, Senior Vice President of Marketing
You Can Never be Overdressed or Overeducated
I have realized over the years, that, as my scientific mentor Mary-Claire King often says, “As a scientist, one is a citizen of the world. And as a citizen of the world, you have certain responsibilities.” FORCE takes the responsibility to educate seriously and we’re committed to being a reliable resource for all those with, or at high risk of, hereditary cancer. With more than 1,000 pages of expert-reviewed educational content, our website is the largest online hereditary cancer resource. Our XRAYS program is a reliable resource for breast cancer research-related news and information; we’ll soon expand this popular program to explain research on metastatic breast cancer, as well as ovarian, prostate and pancreatic cancers.
Piri Welcsh, PhD, Vice President of Education
Your Smile, Your Kindness and Your Time Can Make a World of Difference to Someone Who Feels Alone
We hope that one of FORCE’s 300 volunteers was able to lessen your burden even a tiny bit at some point during your hereditary cancer experience. As a FORCE volunteer, you too can improve the lives of individuals and families who are affected by hereditary cancer. Learn more about volunteer opportunities where you can make an impact. A wise person once said, “Volunteering is the ultimate exercise in democracy. You vote in elections once a year, but when you volunteer, you vote every day about the kind of community you want to live in.”
Sandy Cohen, Senior Vice President of Volunteer Programs
An Individual’s Participation Can Help Lead to Cutting Edge Advancements
Neil Armstrong reminded us that, “Research is creating new knowledge.” Medical research and clinical trials create the advances in medicine and science that we need to fight disease and live higher-quality lives. But research requires participants, and there is an urgent need to enroll patients in hereditary cancer-specific studies. FORCE helps researchers fill their prevention, detection, treatment and quality-of-life clinical trials and studies involving hereditary cancer previvors and survivors. If you qualify for any of the studies or trials FORCE promotes, please consider helping us to create new knowledge.
Barbara Pfeiffer, CEO