Marin Breast Cancer Watch is a non-profit organization founded in 1995 with a mission to find the causes of breast cancer.
In less than a decade, MBCW has grown from a small group of women concerned about the health of their friends and neighbors to a leader in conducting community-based research, educating and providing information to the community, and advocating on behalf of policies that will help find the causes of breast cancer and focus on creating a healthy environment.
As an organization, MBCW believes that prevention is the cure to breast cancer and that finding what causes the disease will help women make better and more informed decisions about their lives and their health care.
As part of its work, MBCW advocates for the Precautionary Principle, which says if there is a belief that products or practices are harmful to human health and the environment, action should be taken before the public is exposed rather than waiting for harm or risk to be proven.
Since its creation, MBCW has broken down barriers in an effort to accomplish its goals. When no one believed a group from the community could conduct research, members from the organization formed partnerships with scientists and worked to create research projects that included community input and participation.
MBCW believes that those people closest to the problem are best able to provide the most reliable information. Research should be conducted with community involvement and then shared with those affected and presented in an honest manner.
To that end, MBCW established some of the first community-based research projects in Marin County. With community input, the organization completed and published its first research project in 2003, the Adolescent Risk Factors Study, which looked at whether adolescent experiences and exposures are different between women who have breast cancer and those who have not. The organization has also completed two other research projects that looked at potential risk factors in the environment.
Drawing on its experience and partnerships, MBCW worked with a leading group of Bay Area researchers and scientists to submit a proposal to the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences to create a research center that looks at breast cancer and the environment. In October, 2003, the NIEHS came to Marin to announce the creation of the Bay Area Breast Cancer and the Environment Research Center. It is one of four research centers created around the country. MBCW will play a leadership role in the Center and is responsible for communicating the finds with the local community.
Today, MBCW has solid partnerships, both locally and nationally, with respected researchers, elected officials, business leaders, health care officials and many other organizations. MBCW puts on educational events and community workshops, hosts an annual awards celebration for members of the community, known as Honor Thy Healer, who help heal women with breast cancer, and works with key decision-makers to advocate for policies that will help find the causes of breast cancer.
Through the work of MBCW and its many partners, the staggering rates of breast cancer in Marin have received international attention and focus.
As an organization, MBCW is committed to understanding why Marin County has one of the highest breast cancer rates in the world. MBCW is dedicated to sharing the information it receives with the community and will continue to look for answers to the many questions facing women in Marin.