Toespraak van Prinses Margriet tijdens de opening van de tiende European Breast Cancer Conference in Amsterdam

Deze toespraak is uitgesproken in het Engels.

Ladies and gentleman,

Breast cancer is a growing problem worldwide.

It is the main cause of death for women under 50 in the western world.

In western countries, the incidence of breast cancer is high:

1 in 8 women will be confronted with the diagnosis at some point in life. 

For you this is common knowledge, but I was not aware of this high incidence.

When I was invited to say a few words at the opening of this conference, I gladly accepted.

We all have people we know, friends or loved ones who suffer from some type of cancer.

It comes very near. It has hit my family too.

And once you have experienced the immense impact cancer has on the patient and his or her family you are motivated to help in whatever way you can - to fight this disease.

Be it in a sports event – for example sponsored ice skating as I did three days ago - or to stand here today and promote and support attention for research and treatment for cancer, we all want to do our bit.

The good news is that the chances for survival from cancer are ever increasing. As for breast cancer this is due to three important factors:

  1. Screening for breast cancer.
  2. Increased woman awareness. Thanks to better information, thanks to the media, patients associations and worldwide campaigns like “Pink Ribbon”, cancer – and certainly breast cancer – can nowadays be openly discussed. This has improved awareness of the public for prevention.
  3. More effective treatments.

This EBCC meeting is set out to tackle every step or worry in the whole continuum, in the entire journey of breast cancer care; such as:

  • optimal and quick diagnosis should be available. Here, professionals as well as governments and health care providers have a great challenge.
  • treatment should be optimal.  Breast cancer professionals can show the way in the overwhelming number of treatment options: select the right patients for less treatment without losing chances for survival. 

Since life expectancy has improved so greatly, numerous women survive for many years. However, all of these survivors have to live with the diagnosis, be “breast cancer patients”,

live with the side effects caused by their treatments.

Anxiety about cancer is always there. Because cancer stays with you.

It’s never out of your mind.

When I look at your program, I notice a broad spectrum of issues on the agenda.

It shows multidisciplinary teamwork, with each member of the team adding equal input and value to all the stages of the disease, of care and treatment.

In science and certainly in medicine one sees so many specialisations that conferences like this gain importance to improve communication and knowledge sharing.

Of course the internet provides for a great deal in this but it does not bring all the different disciplines together as it does here. It offers opportunities to exchange views beyond geographical borders or borders between institutes and universities.

Nothing can replace people to people encounters.

Because it is all about people.

It is very encouraging to see closer cooperation and collaboration in the different fields of expertise in favour of the patients.

This conference appears the ideal forum to this end:

three organisations joining forces in the field of clinical research and science, patient care and patient advocacy to bring the best breast cancer care to every place in Europe.

On that note I wish you a very successful conference!