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National Breast Cancer Coalition Fund's Eleventh Annual Training Conference, Washington, D.C.

Remarks of Governor Christine Todd Whitman,
Administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
at the
National Breast Cancer Coalition Fund = s
Eleventh Annual Advocacy Training Conference
Washington, D.C.

May 5, 2003

Thank you for that introduction. I am pleased to be with you today.

When I was governor of New Jersey, every October B which is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month B I = d try to participate in as many events as I could to help spread the word about early detection and promote the importance of annual mammograms.

I always made sure that I was up-to-date on my own mammogram, because I knew some reporter would ask me, even though I was never convinced that > that = sort of personal information was any of their business.

Even though mammograms are routine, I have to admit to a bit of nervousness every year when that time rolls around. There = s always that small kernel of fear that the results might not be what we hope for B and we worry about what that would mean for ourselves, our families, and friends.

As you know, my friend and colleague, Secretary of Agriculture Ann Veneman, got that news last year. Fortunately, her cancer was detected early. The courage with which she has faced this battle has been a real inspiration to so many. And we= re all so glad she is doing very well.

Thanks to the good work of this organization and of so many others who have worked so hard to promote early detection and increase research into the causes and treatment for breast cancer, more and more women today are not just surviving breast cancer, they are able to regain the full and active lives they always enjoyed.

Since the founding of your organization in 1991, federal funds dedicated to breast cancer have grown by more than 800 percent. You have created a grassroots network that reaches into every part of America, and is heard loud and clear in the Halls of Congress and in statehouses from coast to coast. You have made a major difference in the lives of millions of American women and those who love them.

One of the great things about the breast cancer advocacy and awareness community in this country is the extent to which the various organizations and groups work together in a common cause. This sisterly solidarity has truly brought us far in the fight against this killer disease.

Of course, both as a woman and as the head of the EPA, one of the issues that I am very interested in also happens to be one of your top priorities B better understanding the possible link between the environment and the rising incidence of breast cancer here in the United States.

At EPA, our Office of Research and Development = s National Health and Environmental Effects Research lab has been looking at this very important issue. In this month = s issue of Environmental Health Perspectives, two of EPA = s senior scientists B both women I might add B published an article that looks at whether exposure to certain endocrine disruptors while in the womb could lead to the development of breast tumors in women in their adult years. They don = t have the answer, but they = re asking the right questions.

It = s these sorts of questions that have led this Administration to increase funding for breast cancer research. We need to better understand why more women are getting breast cancer and what we can do to prevent and treat it. Your ongoing advocacy for research will help ensure that this issue gets the attention it deserves.

So on behalf of myself and my daughter B and my husband and my son B thank you for all you have done in the fight against breast cancer. One day, through your efforts and those of so many others, we will beat this disease.

Thank you.