From pink ribbons popping up on everything from advertising to food labels, to pink adorning the uniforms of NFL players, Breast Cancer Awareness Month has become a part of the cultural fabric of America.
While the cause has attracted more than its share of celebrity supporters, there’s good reason — according to the Centers for Disease Control, each year in the United States, more than 200,000 women get breast cancer and more than 40,000 women die from the disease. Breast cancer remains the second most common form of cancer in women, and the second leading cause of cancer deaths among women, that according to the U.S. Cancer Statistics Working Group.
According to the American Cancer Society, about 1 in 8 women will develop breast cancer during their lifetime. That means if you know eight women — and most of us do — there’s a good chance you know someone who has faced breast cancer, or will in the future.
When it comes to thinking about breast cancer — or any other cancer, for that mater — it’s important to think about more than just the numbers, but to look at it in terms of real people. Breast cancer affects our mothers, wives, sisters and daughters — members of our families and our community.
Early detection remains the best option for treating breast cancer. American Cancer Society screening guidelines include clinical breast exams every three years for women in their 20s and 30s, and every year for women 40 and older. The CDC recommends a mammogram every two years for most women 50-74 years old, and women 40-49, or who think they may have a higher risk of breast cancer, to consult their doctor about having a mammogram.
We’re fortunate in this community to have organizations actively raising cancer awareness — and doing so year-round, and not just in a designated month. And many events, such as the Way Out Women snowmachine ride and the Pink Ribbon Rally golf tournament are held to directly support cancer patients here on the Kenai Peninsula.
We’re certainly appreciative of national cancer awareness campaigns. But we’re even more appreciative of the people and organizations acting locally — because the battle against cancer is being fought every day by people we know, people who call this community home.