May 28 2009

Breast Cancer Awareness and Education, making an impact locally and globally

by at 1:52 pm under Uncategorized

Choosing a cause to back for this assignment was rather difficult, because I feel like I’m involved in a number of causes as a result of my networks with family, friends and acquaintances. I made a list of causes which include:

  1. SaveDarfur.org
  2. Stop Global Warming
  3. The House of the Dying in India
  4. Susan G. Komen for the Cure, Breast Cancer Foundation

The best example I can think of is my work with the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation-not that the other causes are less significant. I just have more experience with this one at several levels. This organization is linked to me in several ways, and therefore sharing with people on a local level and even intimate level has been a lot simpler.

Volunteers working at the Survivor Tent at the 2008 Palm Beach Race for the Cure
Volunteers working at the Survivor Tent at the 2008 Palm Beach Race for the Cure

Personal Network Connections
Locally, my sorority alumnae group (one of my networks) collects Yoplait yogurt lids and raises money for the foundation with a number of fundraisers, last year we took up donations at a Red Skins Game and held a silent auction at our holiday party. During the month of October, we hand out self-examination shower cards. I also have been active in the Race for the Cure in all the cities I have lived in. This year the first International Race for the Cure is taking place in Washington, D.C. on June 6. It is an International race because there will be breast cancer survivors from all over the world.

Susan G. Komen’s International Website provides information:

Susan G. Komen for the Cure is the world’s largest grassroots network of breast cancer survivors and activists fighting to save lives, empower people, ensure quality care for all and energize science to find the cures. Recognizing the growing global impact of breast cancer, the shared challenges among countries worldwide, and the value of coordinated advocacy in the battle against this disease, Komen for the Cure began exploring outreach outside the U.S. in 1999.

So how does this relate to networks and globalization?
On the grassroots level, Susan G. Komen was a woman with breast cancer and her sister Nancy Brinker started the organization to improve the survival rate of breast cancer after Susan died. It started as a primarily local movement. A small network that became a big one in less than two decades.

The key actors in this movement are survivors, their families, women, celebrities, policy makers, spokespeople and health-care professionals. The actors will determine the changes that are made not just locally but also globally. Overall, these actors are part of other organizations, and create nodes and links in the greater breast cancer prevention network.

This video illustrates how Komen is educating women in Ghana and other countries about the importance of early detection, and that breast cancer is not a death sentence. This is made possible by fundraising at local affiliates in the United States, as well as several nation-wide and regional events (example: The Race for the Cure, and Komen 3 Day). Rather than approaching the issue from the policy level, volunteers and organization employees have actually visited villages in developing countries where 70 percent of breast cancer cases are fatal. What began as a grassroots cause has become a global cause.

Imagine life without breast cancer

“Imagine life without breast cancer” is our new short film about Susan G. Komen for the Cure®, showing the global inspiration, the passion and the action behind the promise to save lives and end breast cancer forever.

Watch the Video

Opportunity structure and strategies

The opportunity structure mainly has to do with external events including governments and social structures which preexist in that country or surround a particular issue. According to sociologist Doug McAdam, there are four key components of opportunity structures:

  1. The relative openness or closure of the institutionalized political system
  2. The stability or instability of that broad set of elite alignments that typically under gird a political system
  3. The presence or absence of elite allies
  4. The state’s capacity and propensity for repression

For Susan G. Komen opportunity structures would include the accessibility to education, the willingness of foreign and local governments to take action (are they open or closed to the cause). The stability or instability of the country, as well as the ability to be able to communicate with and interact with the key actors in these developing countries are also important. Whether transportation and societal structure allow for this outreach and education are also structural factors. Elite Allies would be vocal partners who see the need for intervention on the ground level, or perhaps donors. Finally are the places they are seeking to help being repressed by the state or talked down by the state or nation in which they are working. The availability of health care professionals in developing countries is also a factor.

The strategy for persuasion consists of several aspects. First, acknowledging the impact breast cancer is having on women and men across the world. Second, addressing the importance of early detection of breast cancer as the main source of prevention of breast cancer fatalities and who breast cancer effects. Third, identifying a way that people can get involved in a small way that can make a big impact. Fourth, sharing a narrative about how someone’s life has been changed by early detection and access to medical care can help people to relate.

Getting people to see how they can impact the world for this cause is not difficult, because there are several statistics available and most people know someone who has survived breast cancer—because one in five women will be diagnosed with the disease. Pointing out little known facts about breast cancer is important as week.

Estimated new cases and deaths from breast cancer in the United States in 2009:

  • New cases: 192,370 (female); 1,910 (male)
  • Deaths: 40,170 (female); 440 (male)

For example, many people do not know that breast cancer does not just affect women-although women are however ten times more likely to be diagnosed with breast cancer. Also talking about how just a little bit can make a difference—a dollar in the USA as opposed to a dollar in Ghana or Mexico—and showing people what is being done with that money can make a difference. Also this can be illustrated by comparing the availability of health care in the United States to the availability in developing countries.

When a cause is approached with a local framework, even on the global level, there can be success through thought the network. Susan G. Komen has approached Breast Cancer awareness and education in developing countries and in the United State in this way creating an impact that is ten fold.

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