02/20/2012 10:26 am ET Updated Apr 21, 2012

Breast Cancer: A Women's Issue all Presidential Candidates Should Agree On

There is nothing like a presidential campaign to convey a sense of urgency. There is the need to fix the economy; to show Americans how their lives can be better; to demonstrate leadership. We need the presidential candidates to step up on another urgent issue: Ending breast cancer. We all know that breast cancer is a political issue and a bipartisan one at that. The level of federal funding for breast cancer research, access to care for the underserved and the drug approval process are just some of the issues vital to breast cancer that are addressed through public policy and the political process.

Now, there isn't a candidate who would not pin on a pink ribbon and embrace a survivor. But at the National Breast Cancer Coalition we demand much more than that. We demand a commitment and a plan of action to end breast cancer. We demand leadership that will bring the world of public policy together to save lives. One of these candidates will become President of the United States. He needs to know now that ending breast cancer must be part of his agenda. It is up to us to educate the candidates about this issue. About the fact that in the United States more than 2.5 million women are living with breast cancer today and this year alone close to 40,000 women and 400 men will die of the disease. We need strong leadership everywhere -- including the White House -- if we are to finally change these statistics.

Today is Presidents' Day. Today, NBCC's advocates around the country are telling the 2012 presidential candidates that breast cancer is an urgent matter and they must do something meaningful about it. They are telling the candidates it's time to make the end of breast cancer -- Breast Cancer Deadline 2020® -- a national priority.

American voters want to elect and be guided by a leader they trust and respect. They also want a leader who has a clear vision of the future- - a president who can take on big issues and lead us all to a solution. Thanks to John F. Kennedy's leadership, his clear vision of the future -- his deadline -- his boldness to say, "In ten years, we will put a man on the moon," we achieved that seemingly impossible goal. Nearly a year and a half ago, NBCC took the lead in the breast cancer community and made a bold step when we set a deadline, Breast Cancer Deadline 2020®, a call to action to end breast cancer by January 1, 2020.

Achieving this goal will take an entirely new approach to the way we think about, research and talk about breast cancer. And it will take leadership at the highest levels.

In January, 2013 someone will take the oath of office as President of the United States of America. Now is the time to tell those who want to be standing there, taking that oath, that they must also take a leadership role and publicly commit to making the end of breast cancer a national priority.

We all need to be a member of the community sending that message. As in each presidential election campaign since our inception, NBCC is making certain the candidates understand that breast cancer must be part of their agenda. We are once again organizing Breast Cancer Caucus to give voters who care about breast cancer an opportunity to make their views known and a venue to look beyond general statements of support, sound bites or slogans to see where the 2012 presidential candidates stand on the legislative and public priorities that are important to NBCC and women living with breast cancer.

We are asking each candidate to make a public commitment to these legislative and public priorities and to answer this question, "Do you support Breast Cancer Deadline 2020®? If so, as President of the United States, what would you do to achieve its goal to end breast cancer by January 1, 2020?"

We will report their responses on

Election Day is months away, and between now and then too many women will die of breast cancer. We must change that. So take today -- Presidents' Day -- to tell the 2012 Presidential Candidates that ending breast cancer is a matter of urgency to you. Ask them to take action and declare their support. Tell them you want them to go to and tell us all how they will achieve the end of breast cancer by the end of the decade. There's not a moment to spare.