In support of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, we’ve partnered with The Pink Agenda (TPA) to fund a week of life-saving breast cancer research. The Pink Agenda is a sister organization to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation (BCRF) that focuses on raising funds for research and awareness of the disease among young professionals.
To learn more about this ecosystem of impact, we asked Lucretia Gilbert, the Executive Director of The Pink Agenda and the Chief Philanthropy Officer of BCRF, about the role that brand partnerships play in fueling progress and finding a cure in our lifetime. CUUP founder Abby Morgan joins her in conversation, sharing the ways that breast cancer awareness is intimately tied to CUUP’s mission.
What is your mission at The Pink Agenda?
Lucretia Gilbert, TPA: Our long-term mission is to fund breast cancer research until we find a cure. Our eye is always on that ball. But, over the years, The Pink Agenda has supported a variety of research projects aimed at women who are diagnosed with breast cancer under the age of 45, and the different complications they face. As an organization run by young professionals, some who are survivors and thrivers themselves, our work is dedicated to improving outcomes for this demographic.
We are also partners with Giuliana Rancic's FAB-U-WISH initiative, and we grant wishes to women undergoing treatment for breast cancer. This year, our goal is to grant even more wishes than we have in the past – so we can spread joy during this difficult time of COVID-19, to women who are unfortunately going through treatment in an incredibly isolating, uncertain time.
How is breast cancer awareness intimately linked to CUUP’s mission?
Abby Morgan, CUUP: CUUP’s mission of support extends far beyond bras. And many of our team members have first-hand experience caring for a loved one who has been diagnosed with breast cancer. As caregivers and family support members, we have researched, supported, cared and advocated for our loved ones through their journeys with cancer. My mother was diagnosed a few months before I started CUUP and it was a surreal experience being thrust into this community, while also developing a bra company.
Our passion to support women through this experience led us to partner with BCRF and The Pink Agenda, which we deem to be two of the organizations doing the most actionable work to support research and find a cure. Through our BodyTalk platform and community, we’ve met women who have been diagnosed at many different stages of life and had the opportunity to feature them through these stages, some as young as 31 years old. Sharing stories is how we learn, become more empathetic and truly support one another.
What role do brand partnerships play in the fight to cure breast cancer?
Lucretia Gilbert, TPA: Brand partnerships play a huge role. Real progress only comes with true commitment. Breakthroughs in research don’t happen overnight. So, we’re grateful for partners like CUUP and its sustained generosity in supporting breast cancer research. CUUP’s partnership with The Pink Agenda is directly funding a week of life-saving research.
We also admire CUUP’s interest in sharing breast cancer information with your community, like this interview, among many other resources on the BodyTalk platform. It really does make an impact to share these stories and tips. We don’t spend on PR, in order to maximize the funds for mission-related activities.
By partnering with brands that align closely with the mission of The Pink Agenda, we are able to reach new communities that might connect with our work, or women with breast cancer that have never heard of our programs and might want to apply for a FAB-U-WISH. Partnerships are really important.
Abby Morgan, CUUP: CUUP is a mission-driven business. We believe brands should be catalysts for change and created ours to be a platform for our community. Finding ways to incorporate our values of support throughout the brand's DNA is how can affect this change. We want to be a speakerphone for education around breast cancer, ways to support, ways to prevent/check and ways to volunteer and donate. Our role is to do what we do best – to build community and raise awareness around the people doing important work.
What role does storytelling play in this work?
Lucretia Gilbert, TPA: Storytelling is vital. It connects people to the mission and allows them to visualize the impact; to really see what we’re working towards. In order to share TPA’s mission in a compelling way, we have to share stories about both the research projects and the lives touched by breast cancer. Not just the statistics of how many people have been diagnosed, but also personal stories of the women who have been touched by the disease.
Abby Morgan, CUUP: We created BodyTalk to shine a light on taboo conversations and to tell stories about the experiences that hold the most weight for women. That includes body image and sensuality, but also breast health and the nuanced, challenging experience of moving through diagnosis and treatment. Breast cancer touches so many women – either directly or through loved ones. By telling the stories of these women with empathy and dignity, and by sharing important education alongside their stories, we aim to create a community of support, so no woman has to feel alone in this experience.
Are there any personal stories that inspire you to continue this work?
Lucretia Gilbert, TPA:
Maggie Kudrika, a young ballerina, was diagnosed with stage 4, metastatic breast cancer in her early twenties. She will live with breast cancer for the rest of her life. Yet, every day, she is serving as an ambassador for The Pink Agenda. She gets on every call, will speak with anyone, and is always looking to spread the word. She’s facing a very harsh reality, but is remarkably positive, brave, thankful for the research and the science, and intent on doing the work that might not save her life, but someone else’s.
Abby Morgan, CUUP: My aunt died of breast cancer in her forties and my mother was diagnosed with stage four two years ago. She will live with breast cancer for the rest of her life. These personal connections to a cause that affects so many women continue to drive and inspire ongoing education and support of this work. Work that won’t stop until we do find a cure.
Research is incredibly important, but can feel distant or vague for those outside the industry. Is there a recent study that inspires hope?
Lucretia Gilbert, TPA: Research can feel like an amorphous way of thinking, so it’s helpful to peel back the onion and see the work in action. There are two research studies that are particularly inspiring to me this year.
At The Pink Agenda, we fund the work of Dr. Ann Partridge, a pioneering researcher and oncologist at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, who is leading the Young Women’s Breast Cancer Study, which is following 1,300 participants over a 20-year period. It’s a remarkable study, because some of the women she has followed are now in their forties and fifties and having ‘miracle children’ later in life. This is impactful research for women who are asking, ‘Well, I have breast cancer now, but what will happen to me in 15 years?’ We hope this study will transform that answer in the future, and are privileged to be funding it.
The other project we are excited about is funding the work of Dr. Jeffrey Weitzel, of the City of Hope Comprehensive Cancer Center. We know that Hispanic and Latin American women are more likely to be diagnosed with breast cancer at a later stage and with more aggressive types of breast cancer than white women. Dr. Weitzel's research is working to address these disparities. He has developed models for improving the success of and access to high-quality genetic testing and counseling in Latin America and Mexico. This year, Dr. Weitzel will also be able to train medical professionals within these communities to better deliver essential services where they're so desperately needed.
Image Credit: Julie Skarratt
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