Breast Cancer Interview with Evelyn Lauder
On October 1, the first day of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, I talked to the co-creator of the Pink Ribbon, the Founder of the Breast Cancer Research Foundation, The Patron Saint of Breast Cancer herself, Evelyn Lauder.
Evelyn Lauder: You're the first blogger I interviewed with.
Marisa Acocella Marchetto: Really? Well, I hope it's good for you! Here we go. Evelyn, what made you start the BCRF?
EL: I was looking for an existing charity to do research in breast cancer. We went all over the country - but there were no citizen based research foundations concentrating exclusively on research.
There was a hole in the market.
I believe if you see a need and don't act on it, it's a sin.
MAM: Another of the many reasons you're a Saint.
EL: I needed to do this like I needed a hole in my head! I have a full life, I have a job, I'm a mother and a wife! When we started in October of 1993, and raised $640,000. We gave $159,000 to research.
MAM: It's your fifteen year anniversary! Congrats! Next year will be your Sweet Sixteen. I see a pink cake with 16 candles.
EL: We should do something about that! This year our overhead is only 8%. Charity Navigator has given us four stars for the 7th year in a row. The BCRF is the only breast cancer charity that has had a 4 star rating for such a sustained period of time.
Now this year we've raised over 39.6 million dollars, and on October 28th, at the BREAST CANCER RESEARCH FOUNDATION SYMPOSIUM AND AWARDS LUNCHEON we're giving 34.6 million to 166 researchers.
EL: Isn't it fabulous?
MAM: Beyond. Evelyn, you're my idol. Who is your idol?
EL: All the women who are potential patients, current patients and the ghosts. We are finally united in our goals and given attention to a disease that was neglected in terms of research - and now it's really paid off.
MAM: Why is it paying off now?
EL: Had another organization been focused exclusively on seed funding for innovative clinical and translational breast cancer research back in 1993, I believe I never would have started my organization.
I am thrilled that we are now joining forces with Avon and Susan G. Komen, which is really a dream come true. Rather than be a competitor with another organization that is doing research and have rancor, it's better for us all to join forces against this enemy. We all have the same goal - to end breast cancer.
We're in a time where federal government has cut its funding. People are leaving the field.
But now we're working together with other fundraisrers.
We have more and better ammunition and we can hire people who can stay on a project for several years.
MAM: This is great news for all women. Thank you.
EL: Thank you for doing the appearance in Boston.
(I'm did an in-store appearance with Elizabeth Hurley and Evelyn in Boston at the Bloomingdale's, Chestnut Hill, October 4 from 2:00-3:00 and all three of us are lit the Museum of Fine Arts pink at 6:15 the same day.)
MAM: Are you kidding me? I would go to the moon for you.
MAM: Speaking of pink, what do you have to say to the Pink Bashers?
EL: Pink is girl, blue is boy. It's a symbol of the alarm to remind a person to do what they need to do. If you're a woman over 40 or 35 or older with a family history of breast cancer, make sure to get your yearly mammogram. Or if you're younger, do self-exams or if you feel a lump you must get checked by a breast specialist.
Many doctors don't believe that young women can get breast cancer. I asked Dr. Larry Norton. Scientific Director of the Breast Cancer Research Foundation and Director of Breast Cancer Programs at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center what is the youngest case he's ever seen, and you won't believe what he told me.
MAM: What did he tell you?
EL: 11. He saw a girl who had breast cancer at 11 years old.
MAM: I believe it. I met a girl who had it at 18. What's the reason?
EL: Larry thinks that it's possibly the estrogens in milk and the estrogens in chicken breast - they give chickens hormones to plump up their breasts and the trace element goes into the meat and when ingested, into the human system.
He is outraged that the United States government is the only government that allows pregnant cows to be milked.
Too much estrogen increases - it can increase the risk of breast cancer.
MAM: My mother (aka "Smother") always said that. She told my oncologists that chicken and milk were the reasons for so much breast cancer and they thought she was off her rocker.
Evelyn, what are you most proud of?
EL: To save lives gives me satisfaction beyond belief.
(Below is the Estee Lauder Breast Cancer Awareness Campaign I created, pro bono. Evelyn's started the BCRF with a dream: World Pink.)