Rais­ing breast cancer aware­ness

Maryland Independent - - Community Forum -

If you have seen an NFL game dur­ing the past two week­ends, you would see what has be­come a sta­ple of Oc­to­ber — the color pink ap­pear­ing ev­ery­where you look.

But the rea­son you see hulk­ing foot­ball play­ers run­ning down the side­lines in pink Nike cleats and catch­ing the foot­ball with pink gloves is be­cause it is part of a na­tion­wide ef­fort to raise aware­ness about breast cancer, the most com­mon cancer in women in the United States, ranked right up there with skin cancer.

The idea of wear­ing pink be­gan in 1991 when the Su­san G. Komen Foun­da­tion handed out pink rib­bons to par­tic­i­pants in its New York City race for breast cancer sur­vivors. The or­ga­ni­za­tion is re­spon­si­ble for rais­ing more than $889 mil­lion for cancer re­search.

The rea­son the en­tire month of Oc­to­ber is dubbed Breast Cancer Aware­ness Month is right in the name: aware­ness. Dur­ing this time, many ad­ver­tis­ers and na­tional breast cancer foun­da­tions pour a great deal of money and en­ergy into ef­forts to in­form the pub­lic that breast cancer is the most com­mon form of cancer for women — but, with early de­tec­tion, it is also the most treat­able. These or­ga­ni­za­tions, most no­tably the Amer­i­can Cancer So­ci­ety and Komen, urge women to check them­selves reg­u­larly for early signs, talk to their doc­tors and get mam­mo­grams. The mes­sage is very clear: the ear­lier breast cancer is de­tected, the bet­ter a woman’s chances for sur­vival.

While women are the most likely to be di­ag­nosed with breast cancer, men are not en­tirely im­mune to the dis­ease. The third week in Oc­to­ber is rec­og­nized as Male Breast Cancer Aware­ness Week. Men, too, should be checked reg­u­larly by their doc­tors dur­ing yearly phys­i­cals.

While Oc­to­ber sees a flurry of pink rib­bons ev­ery­where — in­clud­ing one on the flag on the front page of this news­pa­per — it should be noted that women should be vig­i­lant in their ob­ser­vance of any health changes through­out the year. It’s a safe bet that each of us have been touched in some way by cancer in its many forms, be it a fam­ily mem­ber or friend. Cancer is an in­sid­i­ous, un­re­lent­ing dis­ease, but, in this case, it can be tack­led — with early de­tec­tion, that is.

So take the time to learn about how you can get a jump on de­feat­ing cancer by read­ing up on the re­search, speak­ing with your doc­tor and per­form­ing self-checks reg­u­larly. Also, take a mo­ment to do­nate to a rep­utable or­ga­ni­za­tion such as the Amer­i­can Cancer So­ci­ety or Komen, or to lo­cal or­ga­ni­za­tions, to keep funds flow­ing for re­search so that one day we can be rid of cancer in all its forms.

And, to all the breast cancer sur­vivors out there, we salute you. To those who suc­cumbed to it, we will re­mem­ber you and con­tinue the fight.

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