Investigating Marin


Marin Breast Cancer Watch
2nd Brainstorming Session
March 28, 2023 Meeting Minutes
10 North San Pedro Road, Conference Room 1018



Francine Levien, Executive Director, MBCW
Martine Algier, Center for Non-violent Communication
Ilene English, Psychotherapist


Fern Orenstein, MBCW Treasurer.Involved in public health, particularly with AIDS awareness.
Cynthia Clarkson, Home Care Coordinator who deals with lots of cases of cancers.
Meredith Grey, San Rafael Elementary School District, diagnosed with bc two years ago.
Nan MacKinnon, recently diagnosed with bc and wants to know why she got it
Ginger Souders-Mason, MBCW Board member
Roni Peshkin Mentzer, MBCW Board member
Sandy Yoffie, survivor
John Young, Director, Marin County Grassroots Network. Wants to get more people involved in under served communities, such as Marin City and San Rafael canal.
Anne Connolly, MBCW volunteer
Anne Tillotson, recently diagnosed with bc
Donna Casella, MBCW member and survivor
Marcia Norris, medical researcher and has lots of cancer in family
Catherine Abby-Rich, local herbalist
Libby Kelley, researcher of EMF and cancer
Mary Beth Brangan, working on film documentary with Libby Kelley about EMF problem

After introductions, Francine suggested that we spend half of the time brainstorming and then split into groups, according to each personís area of particular interest. This proved to be more difficult than expected, as the brainstorming and questioning period revealed just how complicated the job of finding the "causes" actually is. One suggestion was to focus on site-specific groups where we develop a concept map delineating hazardous waste dump sites, abandoned gas stations and shipyards, barrels dumped off the Farrallons, etc. It was mentioned that "time is of the essence", due to the possible need to interview elderly persons who may have been witness to the activities surrounding WWII. Conversely, it was suggested that there are too many sites, so we should be looking for clusters of cases, and then tie this data to the many known sites. However, since many women who are diagnosed with cancer have moved here from other areas, this too was not a very accurate way to prove cause and effect, i.e. it is not particularly "good science".

Eventually, we narrowed the discussion to defining some broad categories that we all could agree were pertinent and that would become part of a questionnaire that would eventually be given to those individuals who are responding to the call for information regarding clusters of cancer in Marin County. And, while itís always interesting to participate in brainstorming sessions that involve the entire group, we need to churn out the work in smaller groups, and then come together to report findings and discuss their significance. We also realized that our task of conducting independent research requires significantly more researchers than we presently have. We need to get more people involved, both women who are victims of this epidemic, as well as concerned citizens of our community. It was noted that this is a particularly sensitive time for participants who are dealing with breast cancer, and that while the goal is to build an organization that is efficient and has forward momentum, we need to welcome newcomers and help them find a way to participate and become effective. Also, we need to reach out to women of color and help them find their voice to mobilize their communities.

The group then divided itself among the following three categories:

Environmental  Personal health/lifestyle Research review/Statistics

This includes water, air quality. This includes genetics, pesticides, radiation and EMFís, hazardous wastes and dumpsites, the geology of Marin (serpentine rock which is asbestos in nature), and military activity, both past and present

This includes genetics,  hormone replacement, aspects of affluence (house cleaning, dry cleaning, hair dyes, food choices, late/few pregnancies, etc.)

This group will review current statistics from Marin and compare them to  similarly affluent communities.  They will review Long Island and Silver Springs studies and other community efforts to seek "answers".  They are looking for a contact person in each town in Marin, and so far have Mill Valley, Larkspur/Corte Madera and West Marin covered.

Since there were so many people who attended the first brainstorming session that were not able to attend this meeting, it is hoped that each of you will contact one of the following individuals to join a group that needs YOU to help with the task at hand. Please call and/or attend the first meeting, so that when we next meet as a large group, we will have more answers and less time will be spent just talking about what we think to be the problem(s).

Mary Beth Bragnan, 868-1900 Donna Casella, 454-8029     Catherine Abby-Rich, 924-5961

1st Meeting:  April 11, 4:00pm
MBCW Office
25 Bellam Blvd. Suite 260
San Rafael, CA 94901

1st Meeting:  April 6, 2:00pm
MBCW Office
25 Bellam Blvd.  Suite 260
San Rafael, CA 94901

1st Meeting: April 14, 9:30am
Ilene English's Office
1330 Lincoln Ave., Suite 100
San Rafael, CA 94901