At the European Society of Mastology (EUSOMA) Congress in Paris in February 1993 the eminent Italian surgeon Professor Umberto Veronesi, having seen how powerful women’s advocacy for breast cancer had been in the United States, presented the concept of a European organisation involving women in the fight against breast cancer. The response was immediate and a small group of women representing various European countries began laying the foundations for EUROPA DONNA – the European Breast Cancer Coalition. Having taken up the challenge these women made it very clear that this had to be a women’s organisation run by women.
Under the guidance of Founding President Gloria Freilich and a committed Board, EUROPA DONNA held its first conference in Milan in 1994 and firmly established itself as Europe’s breast cancer advocacy organisation. In the beginning EUROPA DONNA was formed as an educational arm of the European School of Oncology (ESO) with the major support of the Director Alberto Costa, a support that has continued throughout ED’s existence.
Early milestones in ED’s history are:
- 1993 EUSOMA meeting in Paris
- 1994 1st ED Pan-European conference
- 1995 2nd ED Pan-European conference – election of first Board
- 1996 Constitution signed
The emergence of breast cancer advocacy throughout Europe can be traced through the growth and development of ED as a coalition of affiliated groups from countries across Europe. The following are the 10 goals of EUROPA DONNA:
- To promote the dissemination and exchange of factual, up-to-date information on breast cancer throughout Europe.
- To promote breast awareness
- To emphasise the need for appropriate screening and early detection
- To campaign for the provision of optimum treatment
- To ensure provision of quality supportive care throughout and after treatment
- To advocate appropriate training for health professionals
- To acknowledge good practice and promote its development
- To demand regular quality assessment of medical equipment
- To ensure that all women understand fully any proposed treatment options, inlcuding entry into clinical trials and their right to a second opinion
- To promote the advancement of breast cancer research