We thought 2020 was a year like no other, but the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has caused yet more disruption in 2021 so it was unsurprising that we held our BCAC AGM online again.

We were thrilled to have so many of our members and friends join us virtually last week to share some of the work we’ve undertaken during the year.

Despite the challenges of lockdowns, BCAC continued to provide a voice for New Zealanders with breast cancer, to engage with health authorities to improve lives, and to provide support and information to empower people to make informed choices about their treatment and care.

Chair Libby Burgess’s review outlined key highlights, including the Gifts to the Future, He Koha ā Mua legacy videos project created in collaboration with Metavivors NZ, Sweet Louise and Breast Cancer Foundation NZ. Featuring 16 women with advanced breast cancer, this powerful collection of videos raises awareness, creates a legacy for whānau and provides hugely valuable insights into living with the disease for others diagnosed.

Other 2021 highlights included:

  • the recent online COVID Vax Chat with expert oncologists, organised with Sweet Louise and Metavivors NZ to help overcome vaccine hesitancy among women with advanced breast cancer;
  • Lie Down for Life events marking the presentation of the Patient Voice Aotearoa petition seeking to review PHARMAC and double/triple its budget;
  • the PHARMAC Review – finally, with the weight of advocacy from a broad range of patient groups, this much-needed review was initiated. BCAC made a comprehensive submission and joined other health groups in meeting with the Review Panel to put our case;
  • briefing Minister of Health Andrew Little and Cancer Control Agency Te Aho o Te Kahu CEO Diana Sarfati on changes needed to achieve greater equity and better outcomes in breast cancer. We highlighted managing risk and better targeting of screening, greater access to medicines, and gene-based testing for precision treatment. We also raised a raft of issues brought to us by women at the coalface of breast cancer treatment.

These are just a few activities among many conferences, meetings and collaborations BCAC participated in throughout the year. Libby acknowledged and thanked all those members, advisors and collaborators in the health sector and supporters across the country who worked with us. She also expressed gratitude to the generous funders who support our work.

Libby summarised BCAC’s priorities for 2022, including:

  • Listening to and supporting those diagnosed and living with breast cancer;
  • Engaging with the Minister of Health, politicians, Te Aho o Te Kahu, Ministry of Health, DHBs, BreastScreen Aotearoa, PHARMAC, and cancer clinicians to promote an aspirational future-focused approach to all aspects of breast cancer care;
  • Working with patients, cancer specialists, PHARMAC and pharmaceutical companies to increase the availability of innovative medicines and technologies;
  • Supporting the development of Quality Performance Indicators and Guidelines for early and advanced breast cancer;
  • Seeking improved clinical trials access for breast cancer patients;
  • Continuing work on reducing inequities in detection, treatment and care for Māori and Pasifika women with breast cancer;
  • Progressing our investigations into the need for Māori-specific resources related to our Step by Step support pack;
  • 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.

6 Dec 2021

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