By Jennifer Brownell, Managing Director, Q4B
October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. It is a time set aside once a year to attempt to get everyone’s attention on a national level regarding this deadly disease. It is not merely about heightening the awareness of the disease itself, although that is important. But unless you have been living under a rock for the last 25 or so years the assumption is that just about everyone knows that breast cancer exists and most everyone knows someone who has been affected by it.
No, the purpose of Breast Cancer Awareness Month is to inform, to encourage, to educate, to help find a cure.
There are other causes, diseases, issues that have been allotted days, weeks or months to allow those interested to get some attention and to work towards accomplishing their individual goals, whatever they may be and no matter how worthy they are.
And there are some diseases, heart disease for example that are more deadly than breast cancer, especially among women. Consider that according to the National Heart and Lung Institute, 1 in 4 women will die of heart disease and according to the American Cancer Society, 1 in 40 women will die of breast cancer, there may not be another disease that is so universal, so identifiable, so personal as breast cancer.
For those who have been diagnosed with breast cancer and have gone through the treatment, from radiation to chemotherapy, the disease becomes part of who they are and it is always with them for the rest of their lives. There is no cure as of yet and even though many survivors can over time and after years of annual or semi-annual examinations be declared cancer free, the chance of cancer recurring is always present and real.
The message that needs to be heard not just during this month of October but every month, every day is this. Breast cancer shows no favoritism, shows no discrimination and can happen to anyone including a small percentage of men. It can happen to women in their twenties, thirties, forties, fifties and beyond. It can happen to any race or ethnic group although some are more predisposed to the disease, such as some Hispanic women and Eastern European Jewish women with the BRCA1 and BRCA2 gene. It can happen regardless of socioeconomic background, education level, geography, diet, lifestyle or genetics.
It can happen.
The message is that you can survive, as many women have. But surviving breast cancer depends on a number of factors. The most important of which is early detection. The earlier the better. Women of all ages from early twenties on up need to know how to self-examine and be willing to discuss with their health care provider any slight changes that they discover. This is especially true of women with a predisposition to the disease as mentioned above.
Other factors are having access to information regarding the disease, access to support groups made up of other survivors and the support of family and friends.
But, you can survive!
There are so many fine organizations that are involved on a daily basis in fighting this deadly disease, the American Cancer Society, the Susan G. Komen Foundation and the National Breast Cancer Foundation to name just a few. All are working to bring about a cure for this deadly disease, hopefully in our lifetime.
There is hope!
My purpose in writing this blog is to lend my voice to the scores of people who are doing what they can to make everyone more aware of this disease and what to do if you are diagnosed. My own sense of awareness came a year ago in October of 2011, during Breast Cancer Awareness Month. I became aware that I had breast cancer, stage 1HER2 to be precise. I went through some pretty brutal rounds of radiation and chemotherapy, lost my hair and can now claim to be a survivor. I was fortunate to have some great doctors, access to as much information as I cared to read, support of other survivors and most especially the ongoing support of co-workers, friends and loving family.
I would hope that everyone who is diagnosed could have the same experience that I had. Short of finding the cure for this disease that should be the goal of everyone and every organization working with this issue so that someday everyone who is diagnosed can say, “We are all survivors!”
Spread the word about breast cancer and join the fight. Make everyone more AWARE!