Christine Brunswick, Vice President of the National Breast Cancer Coalition (NBCC), passed away on February 25, 2013 at the age of 60, after a long, courageous battle with breast and cervical cancer. She is survived by her beloved son, Daniel, who was the pride and joy of her life. Christine was born in Iron River, Michigan, and graduated from Michigan State University with a degree in Economics. She moved to Washington, DC in 1972 and eventually became Executive Director of the American Bar Association's Tax Section, a position she held for 25 years. Christine is the only non-lawyer to receive a Distinguished Service Award from the American Bar Association.
Christine was a notable figure in national and international breast cancer advocacy. She joined the NBCC when it began in 1991, inspired and determined to make a difference. She was an integral part of the advocacy movement led by the NBCC, which resulted in increased federal funding for breast cancer research and creation of the Department of Defense (DoD) Breast Cancer Research Program (BCRP). She continued to advocate for congressional appropriations to the BCRP for the past 20 years. Among her many volunteer efforts, Christine was NBCC's delegate to the 1995 United Nation's Beijing Women's Conference and a frequent visitor to Capitol Hill where she championed and promoted the urgency to bring an end to breast cancer. She testified before Congress and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration about breast cancer and public policy issues, served on numerous national committees and panels, and she traveled the world to speak to researchers and advocates.
Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said of her: "Chris was an extraordinary advocate for women. She never let her diagnosis hold her back, and dedicated her life to ending breast cancer. Indeed her work with the [NBCC] on Capitol Hill, with the White House, and the scientific community, and her passion for helping women around the world made a deep and lasting impact."
Christine first served as a consumer reviewer for the DoD BCRP in 1998, reviewing grant applications and making funding recommendations alongside scientist reviewers. She was an expert at the table, discussing not only the quality of the science, but questioning whether the science would lead to progress for individuals with breast cancer. A notable moment in Christine's participation in the DoD BCRP was at the opening session of the 2008 Era of Hope Conference, called "Armchair Discussion of Unanswered Questions." Christine, the only advocate among a panel of prominent breast cancer researchers, pointedly asked why her breast cancer recurred after so many years without sign of disease.
Christine was a phenomenal representative and voice for the breast cancer community. She was a terrific mentor to many breast cancer advocates and brought out the best in those who worked with her. She loved to travel and left a trail of friends around the country and the world. Her generous heart, infectious smile and laugh, intelligence, and compassion will be greatly missed.