CEDAR FALLS – Christine Carpenter was diagnosed with breast cancer 26 years ago. She fought back and won, and found the courage to channel her fears and anger into doing something that mattered, something that would make a difference: becoming a vocal advocate and striving to end deaths from breast cancer.
She joined the Cedar Valley’s Beyond Pink TEAM and became an advocate with the Iowa Breast Cancer Advocacy Network and field coordinator with the National Breast Cancer Coalition.
On Sept. 24, Carpenter was awarded the Iowa Cancer Champion award at the Iowa Cancer Consortium Fall Summit in Ankeny. She was nominated by Beyond Pink Team President Dee Hughes.
“Christine has dedicated her life to ending cancer. In doing so, she has made living with breast cancer easier for women and men living in the Cedar Valley, Iowa and the United States. In my eyes, she is a hero,” said Hughes.
Carpenter is “thrilled, surprised, honored and pleased” to receive the award. The recognition, she said, “is that it helps get out the message about breast cancer, the work of the National Breast Cancer Coalition, Deadline 2020 and some of the wonderful things we’ve managed to accomplish.”
NBCC’s Deadline 2020 (Jan. 1, 2020) is the campaign to know how to end breast cancer and move from awareness to prevention. Through NBCC‘s advocacy, cancer researchers will soon be moving into the early phases of clinical trials of a preventative vaccine for metastatic breast cancer.
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In 1998, Carpenter and other members of the Beyond Pink Team asked U.S. Senator Charles Grassley to provide leadership to help pass the Breast Cancer and Cervical Cancer Treatment Act. He became the advocate for legislation that became law in 2001. Individuals are now Medicaid-eligible to receive treatment for breast and cervical cancer even when they don’t qualify for a standard Medicaid program.
“It shows that advocacy works. You have to be persistent, and it may take a long time, and you might not get everything you want, but it does work,” Carpenter said.
Hughes said Carpenter and her fellow BPT advocates “have been relentless to keep the Treatment Act despite changes going on in health care.” Carpenter’s passionate advocacy and other BPT advocates have become role models for groups in other states, Hughes noted.
“The Beyond Pink TEAM has evolved greatly since our 1988 inception, in part due to Christine’s persistence and guidance to keep doing more,” Hughes explained.
At the 2019 annual NBCC Leadership Summit in Washington, D.C., Carpenter was asked to join a national plenary panel on “The Politics of Healthcare.”
She chairs the Advocacy Council for the Beyond Pink TEAM, and serves as a consumer reviewer for research grants. She was instrumental in starting BPT’s Young Cancer Survivors support group, Iowa Breast Cancer Edu-action and the Iowa Breast Cancer Advocacy Network.