May 8, 2015

Questions And Answers About The WBCO

What is the World Breast Cancer Organization?

The World Breast Cancer Organization (WBCO) is an incorporated charity, registered in Canada, dedicated to international multi-disciplinary global action on breast cancer.  Our head office is in Kingston, Ontario, the 1997 site of the first World Conference on Breast Cancer.

Why does the World Breast Cancer Organization exist?

In 2003 breast cancer is the number one cancer in women worldwide regardless of where they live, whether in industrial or developing nations. Every year more than one million women are diagnosed with breast cancer and approximately 400,000 die. Today there are close to four million women living with breast cancer on our planet.

What does the World Breast Cancer Organization Do?

The World Breast Cancer Organization provides an international, multi-disciplinary forum where issues related to breast cancer can be addressed.  A key component is the World Conference on Breast Cancer, held every three years in Canada.  The organization is also committed to advancing global action on breast cancer through presentations at international meetings and by ongoing cooperation with and development of the international breast cancer community.

Whom does the World Breast Cancer Organization serve and how?

First and foremost, the WBCO serves women with breast cancer—those most affected by the disease—and the friends, family, and community networks that support them.  The World Breast Cancer Organization realizes that there are no simple answers or solutions to the global problem of breast cancer, and that no one person, organization or nation on its own can address every issue.  Hence the organization creates opportunities to examine issues in all their variety and complexity, giving equal voice to the person affected by breast cancer, the clinician, the scientist, and the advocate.  In this way, international knowledge is shared and enriched from a number of perspectives that broaden expertise, deepen sensitivity and respect, and accelerate progress in confronting breast cancer.

How is the World Breast Cancer Organization governed?

The World Breast Cancer Organization is governed by a Board of Directors made up of breast cancer survivors, grass roots volunteers who have developed three World Conferences on Breast Cancer and ongoing links to those we serve, and people with knowledge and skills in cancer issues, international outreach, and organizational development.

What are the specific objectives of the World Breast Cancer Organization?

  • To educate and share information on all aspects of breast cancer: research, diagnosis, treatment, support, prevention, outreach and education.
  • To provide an opportunity for those affected by the disease to express their fears, frustrations, hopes and dreams, and tell their stories
  • To build and strengthen international networks concerned with breast cancer.
  • To move forward and advance global and local action related to breast cancer.

What are the values on which the World Breast Cancer Organization bases its work?

The WBCO values the lives and experiences of women.  We recognize the central role of women in creating individual, family, community and economic health around the world.  We appreciate women’s unique ways of knowing, their traditional role as volunteer and friend, their need to express the depths of their emotions, and their thirst for and right to knowledge. The WBCO values relationships with women everywhere.

The WBCO values diversity in all its forms.  We believe in the essential role of difference in human experiences and regard it as a rich source of knowledge and empowerment.  We do not shy away from the controversy that difference creates, but encourage it as a tool for deeper understanding.  We provide a gathering place for different cultures, experiences, knowledge, skills, viewpoints, and ways of understanding.  Our belief in diversity underlies the equal value we give to the viewpoints of survivors, clinicians, scientists, advocates, and all those with a stake in creating a world without breast cancer.

The WBCO values participation.  We believe that we can do more when we do it with others.  We believe in the strength of sharing and the power of shared ideas.  We believe that the breast cancer survivor’s drive and passion adds great value to discourse on breast cancer.  We believe that volunteers should have roles of relevance and meaning.  We believe in our partners and their incomparable talents and support: breast cancer organizations, corporate sponsors, donors, and individual supporters who share our common cause.  

The WBCO values access. We believe that we have a responsibility to equitably engage all who would benefit from speaking and hearing about breast cancer, especially those who are faced with barriers of distance and resources.

What achievements can the World Breast Cancer Organization point to?

Since the first World Conference on Breast Cancer in 1997, the World Breast Cancer Organization has inspired many initiatives around the world.  These initiatives help to improve conditions for individual women with breast cancer and provide support and education for thousands of others. The following list highlights some of the international work that we have initiated directly, or that has been reported to us:

  • Establishment of a breast treatment centre in Vietnam through support from Canadian organizations.
  • Provision of a mammography machine to Bengal.
  • Creation of the Philippines Breast Cancer Network, the first ever support and advocacy group in that country.
  • Writing of a Global Action Plan, its distribution to eighty countries around the world, and translation and distribution in French and Croatian.
  • Presentation to the United Nations on the environmental links to breast cancer.
  • Restructuring of the treatment centre in Moscow to provide patient counselling and support.
  • Production of a Spanish version of the film, Exposure, a documentary focusing on the environmental links to breast cancer.
  • Development of an international lecture series for physicians and nurses regarding the medical, psychological, social and economic impacts of breast cancer
  • Awareness campaign about breast cancer through the Zambian Women and Shelter Group.
  • Establishment of a breast cancer web site in the Bahamas which receives over 200 visits each week.
  • Change in the operation of the Institute in San José dos Campos in Brazil to a patient-centered facility.
  • Free breast cancer clinic established in Egypt and the creation of a web site for information about breast health.
  • Sharing information about the World Conference on Breast Cancer through local and national media in India.
  • The formation of the International Support Links program, which pairs a Canadian breast cancer survivor with one from another country for shared information and support.  In 2002, 12 Canadians were paired with survivors from Zambia, Egypt, Philippines, Israel, Yugoslavia, Lebanon and Cameroon.
  • Canadian delegates from the ISL program sold beaded pink ribbons to raise funds to support BSE training of community workers in Zambia.

What is the World Breast Cancer Organization currently working on?

  The WBCO is beginning to plan the next World Conference on Breast Cancer, to be held in Halifax, Nova Scotia, June 8 – 12, 2005.  In addition, we are evaluating our International Support Links program in order to initiate and maintain greater international support for women with breast cancer.