Marlene McCarthy Video (Text Version)
Cofounder and Volunteer Chair, Rhode Island Breast Cancer Coalition
I’m Marlene McCarthy. I’m co-founder and volunteer chair for the Rhode Island Breast Cancer Coalition and I serve on the Board of Directors and the Executive Committee of the National Breast Cancer Coalition.
I was first diagnosed with invasive breast cancer at the age of 44 with doctors saying, “Oh, you’re too young; it couldn’t possibly be breast cancer.” And of course it was. So I went through necessary treatment and surprise, surprise, 21 years later, at the age of 65, I was re-diagnosed.
What’s frustrating about it is not the diagnosis, not the treatment, just the thought that I’ve been doing this consumer advocacy for so many years. And yes, there are gains in science, but women are still being diagnosed. Women and men, and still dying from the disease.
We may very well be coming up with the golden answer through the Department of Defense Breast Cancer Research Program. I thoroughly enjoyed being a peer reviewer for 3 years. And I served as an ad hoc committee member for programmatic review for 6 years.
What do consumers bring to the BCRP? We bring passion. Some have said, well, consumers bring a face to the science that we do. I think we bring much more than that. We bring an urgency; we bring a vision for a high-risk, high-gain science that will in fact give us the answers to the cure and, hopefully, prevention of breast cancer. When consumers sit with scientists at the table, it’s not about that consumer’s breast cancer, it’s about the breast cancer to be diagnosed in generations yet to come.
I’m feeling the sense of urgency inside of myself. I do not want my granddaughters to be diagnosed with breast cancer. I want them to have a screening tool that is so much better than a mammogram, and I want the potential outcomes to be so much better in their life for them then they are for us today. It’s not about me. My life is what it is. It’s about theirs.
So my sense of urgency feeds into my commitment to the Department of Defense Breast Cancer Research Program. At least with this program, I believe we will get the answers.
1943 – 2018
Last updated Tuesday, January 4, 2022