This past fall, the women’s soccer team at Mercy embarked on a semester-long campaign to raise funds and awareness for breast cancer research. In addition to generating dollars through the sale of pink caps stamped with the college’s logo and by collecting donations, the Mavericks shined a spotlight on an important new weapon in the battle against breast cancer.
The team donated proceeds to the Love/Avon Army of Women, a collaborative initiative between the Dr. Susan Love Research Foundation and the Avon Foundation for Women. The initiative was launched last October with the objective of recruiting one million healthy women of every age and ethnicity to partner with breast cancer researchers and to directly participate in the search for a cure. Breast cancer survivors and women at high risk for contracting the disease also are invited to volunteer.
To participate, women can register at www.armyofwomen.org by providing their name, year of birth, e-mail address, city, country and zip code. Funded scientists in need of women fitting specific criteria can then contact the Army of Women, which will help them tap into its pool of volunteers. So far, more than 278,000 women have signed up.
Love, a nationally renowned surgeon and leading authority on breast cancer, is a primary force behind Army of Women. She said the goal of the initiative to establish a “just in time” bank of women who are willing to participate in clinical trials and provide researchers with exactly what they need when they need it.
Calling Army of Women the most effective and rewarding way of taking an active role in eradicating breast cancer, Love said she came up with the idea in response to her growing frustration at the lack of progress in determining the exact causes of the disease.
“I have spent my whole career working to eradicate breast cancer but was getting very frustrated that we still don’t know what causes breast cancer or how to prevent it. What little was being done was being done on rats and mice,” she said. “When I talked to scientists and asked why, they told me that rats are easier, and besides, they didn’t know how to find women willing to give their fluids, tissues and information for research. So I decided to help them.”
All types of women are needed for the project, Love said. Noting that women athletes often serve as role models, especially for health issues, Love encouraged them to join the Army of Women.
“It would be significantly influential if our role models support and promote such a worthy cause,” she said. “It’s time for women to take the next step, and become partners with the researchers. Every woman over the age of 18 should be part of this initiative.”
© 2010 The National Collegiate Athletic Association