2020 another busy year for BCAC – even under lockdown

2020 has certainly been a year like no other and so was BCAC’s 15th Annual General Meeting – our first to be conducted online as a virtual event. Clearly everyone’s ‘Zooming’ skills have become well-honed and we had a great turnout. We were thrilled to see so many of you online with us and know that you were linking in from around the country.

In spite of COVID-19, BCAC has continued to provide a voice for New Zealanders with breast cancer, to push for change to improve lives, and to provide support and information to help everyone affected by breast cancer.

Chair Libby Burgess gave a comprehensive overview of the year.

A huge highlight has been the funding of some key medicines for advanced breast cancer - trastuzumab emtansine (Kadcyla), fulvestrant (Faslodex) and the CDK 4/6 inhibitor – palbociclib (Ibrance). 

Other key highlights included:

  • louder New Zealand patient voices being heard, particularly from Metavivors NZ and Malcolm Mulholland’s work with Patient Voice Aotearoa and the continued drive to see PHARMAC reviewed and the medicines budget doubled via their petition at sign4life.nz ;
  • BCAC’s continued efforts to represent New Zealanders with breast cancer via submissions to health system reviews, strategies and plans as well as attendance at virtual and face to face meetings with specialists, researchers and policy makers;
  • the formation of the new Cancer Control Agency, Te Aho o Te Kahu, providing a real opportunity for focus on the timely delivery of services that cancer patients need across the whole pathway. Libby explained that BCAC provided a strong response to Te Aho’s Cancer Action Plan, seeking fresh thinking and significant resourcing to reduce inequities and provide innovative solutions to improve cancer experiences and survival for all New Zealanders. With Libby’s appointment to Te Aho’s Consumer Reference Group, BCAC is hoping our voices will be effective in driving positive change.

Libby acknowledged our members, collaborators, advisors and supporters across the health system. She also expressed gratitude to our funders, donors and fundraisers without whose help we would not be able to provide our free resources and services that improve the lives of New Zealanders with breast cancer.

The meeting closed with a summary of BCAC’s priorities for 2021, including:

  • Listening to and supporting those diagnosed and living with breast cancer, working to achieve best outcomes through communication, collaboration and representation.
  • Monitoring and encouraging the performance of the new Cancer Control Agency and implementation of the Cancer Action Plan 2019-2029.
  • Continuing work on reducing inequities in detection, treatment and care for Māori and Pasifika women with breast cancer.
  • Supporting the development of Quality Performance Indicators and Guidelines for early and advanced breast cancer.
  • Interacting with the Minister of Health, politicians, Te Aho o Te Kahu, Ministry of Health, DHBs, BreastScreen Aotearoa, PHARMAC, and cancer clinicians, to champion aspirational approaches to achieving world class detection, diagnosis, treatment and care.
  • Working with patients, cancer specialists, PHARMAC, pharmaceutical companies and Patient Voice Aotearoa to increase the availability of innovative medicines and technologies.
  • Promoting participation in the national screening programme and advocating for risk-based personalised screening and uptake of biomarkers and genetic testing.
  • Continuing to offer our Step by Step support pack free to everyone diagnosed.

View the full AGM presentation here.

4 Dec 2020

 

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