The start of October rings in Breast Cancer Awareness month. Breast Cancer Awareness month is an effort to bring awareness and to educate on symptoms as well as treatment regarding breast cancer.
Breast cancer is a disease in which malignant (cancer) cells form in the tissues of the breast. The cancer is most commonly diagnosed in women, however, men can also be diagnosed with breast cancer on rare occasions. Usually, breast cancer has no symptoms, but sometimes there might be discomfort, an inverted nipple, lumps or even a nipple discharge. Some other symptoms can include common redness or swollen lymph nodes.
Women should try to get in the habit of doing breast self-examinations once a month in order to familiarize themselves with how their breasts normally look and feel. According to the National Breast Cancer Foundation, to examine yourself, use the pads of your fingers and move around your entire breast in a circular pattern, moving from the outside to the center, checking the entire breast and armpit area, repeating the same procedure on the other breast. This allows one to check for any lumps that might be deeper in the breast tissue.
One in eight women in the United States will be diagnosed with breast cancer. It is also the second leading cause of cancerous death among women. It is estimated that each year, 252,710 women in the U.S will be diagnosed with breast cancer and that more than 40,500 will die.
The National Breast Cancer Foundation also goes on to claim that on average, a woman is diagnosed with breast cancer every two minutes, and one woman will die of breast cancer every thirteen minutes. Approximately over 3.3 million breast cancer survivors are still alive in the U.S today.
Further, according to the American Cancer Society, non-Hispanic white women are most likely to be diagnosed with breast cancer, yet breast cancer deaths are highest in African American women.
During an interview, Susan Hunk, who had been diagnosed with breast cancer as of April of 2017, told WAND-TV what she had gone through after she discovered a lump in her right breast in March of 2017. She stated, “I scheduled a mammogram and I went in… I didn’t tell them about the lump because I thought that was the job of the mammogram.”
Even after receiving a letter from her doctor explaining that everything appeared to be normal, Hunk still thought something was wrong and followed her instincts. She made another appointment, this time with her OBGYN.
“We went in and did an ultrasound and they said I needed a biopsy,” Hunk says. “They called me and said I have invasive ductal carcinoma which is a form of breast cancer.” From there, Hunk stated that her whole world got turned upside down. According to WAND-TV, Hunk explained that she had undergone chemotherapy for over a year. In fourteen months, she had six surgeries and three MRI’s as well as a CT scan. Hunk goes onto say, “You can do anything for a year as long as you’re going to come out on the other side,”
She further concludes how important it is for her to remain positive during this difficult time. “I just had a positive attitude, and I really think that’s 90 percent of it.”
For Breast Cancer Awareness, the pink ribbon is the most common symbol when it comes to breast cancer organizations. The merging ribbon and symbolism in the U.S were created by two huge factors. In 1979, wife of a hostage who had been taken to Iran; Penny Laingen had been inspired by the sight of the yellow ribbons around the trees in her front yard. She informed Americans on the nightly news that the ribbon signaled her desire to see her husband home again.
11 years later, the second factor occurred once AIDS activists had looked into the yellow ribbons that had been brought back for the soldiers fighting the Gulf War. They took the idea, turned the ribbon bright red, looped it and decorated it before sending it to the Tony Awards to represent those that had been affected by AIDS.
In 1991, pink ribbons were distributed to all breast cancer survivors and participants of the Komen New York City Race for the Cure. Since 1982, Susan G. Komen for the Cure has used the color pink for the ribbon to symbolize breast cancer awareness. The logo design was the form of an abstract female runner outlined with the pink ribbon, and from there on out it was used from the mid-1980s through the early 1990s.
In 2007, followed by the name change from Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation to Susan G. Komen for the Cure, with the new logo came a pink ribbon known as the “running ribbon” created specifically for the Komen for the Cure.
If diagnosed with breast cancer, treatment depends on the state of the cancer. Methods consist of surgery, medical procedures, medications and specialist advice. There are many different Associations that support Breast Awareness, such as Susan G. Komen, American Cancer Society, Living Beyond Breast Cancer, National Breast Cancer Foundation, Triple Negative Breast Cancer Foundation and many more.
Associations such as Susan G. Komen often hold special events such as Race for the Cure. It is a series of 5k runs and fitness walks that raise significant funds and awareness for the breast cancer movement.
Don’t forget to sport the pink ribbon this month to help support Breast Cancer Awareness!