Raising breast cancer awareness
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.