Dr. Susan Jane Blumenthal

Good afternoon. I’m Doctor Susan Blumenthal, Assistant Surgeon General and I’m honored to welcome all of you here today. As many as 40 percent of Americans will develop cancer in their lifetimes. So all of us here today have at least one thing in common. Our lives have been touched by cancer. Twenty years ago my mother died of breast cancer... she was a child when she was diagnosed with the disease. At that time you could not say the word cancer out loud nor could we share her struggle with others. Much has changed since then. The stigma has been shattered, knowledge has been expanded—by harvesting and applying new advances from research, which is medicine’s field of dreams. And we now have an entire generation of citizens who call themselves cancer survivors. And this progress could not have happened without the leadership of the people here today. The dedicated and courageous Americans who have survived cancer, who are raising awareness about the disease and those of you who are working at the laboratory bench, at the clinical bedside, in our federal government and in our communities. And it couldn’t have happened without leaders like Secretary Donna Shalala and President Bill Clinton. The year 1990 marked the beginning of the decade in which the alarming inequities women’s health were exposed—the lack of women as research subjects in our nation’s clinical investigations, the fact that men were considered to be generic humans and yet those findings from these studies were extrapolated to guide the treatment of women patients. The lack of analysis of data by gender that effect both men and women such as heart disease and cancer, the dearth of senior women scientists in our country’s federal and research establishments—these inequities are now being addressed through the Public Health Service Office of Women’s Health working in collaboration with all of the agencies in the Public Health Service and other departments of the government, and working with consumers, health care professionals, and others. There is an old proverb that says that it is better to light a candle than to curse the darkness. There has been considerable darkness surrounding women’s health issues in the past but the light that has been shone on these issues by the dedicated and outstanding leadership of Hillary Rodham Clinton, Secretary Donna Shalala, consumers, health care professionals, scientists, so many of you here today, has brightened the prospects for a healthier future for all American women. Most women don’t know that they’re at risk for heart disease and in fact, it’s the number one killer of American women, or that lung cancer is the leading cancer death for women. They don’t know what are the risk factors for breast cancer or how they can prevent this disease. Meet Dr Susan Blumenthal, Assistant Surgeon General and Deputy Assistant Secretary for Women’s Health, the nation’s top federal doctor for women and the host of the Healthy Woman 2000 Television Series. There’s a thirst for knowledge about the health issues that effect women, whether it’s breast cancer or mental illness, whether it’s better to take hormone replacement therapy at menopause, women don’t have any single place to turn for cutting edge information.