As we are in the midst of another Breast Cancer Awareness month, I wanted to offer some thoughts of my own on the topic – note that this is not really a post about books or marketing – just something important to me that I wanted to share with our community.
Until fairly recently, breast cancer was something I knew from a distance. Friends of friends had it. I knew other people who had been hit by other forms of cancer (my father died of pancreatic cancer in 2010 for example), but somehow, breast cancer was an unknown to me personally. It made it easy to ignore the occasional generic plea to support a walkathon, or even wear the pink ribbon. That has all changed. In the last two years, two friends have been diagnosed with, and are battling, breast cancer. My childhood friend, Heather, has embraced the concept of kicking breast cancer square in the butt (yes, I realize that is an awkward image, but I like it anyway). She is committed to fighting it in a public way to help raise awareness while also lifting her own spirits. The power of positive thinking at work. She has graciously allowed me to use her face and name to help make my point. And the point I want to make to you is this – breast cancer has a face. It is someone’s loved one, a childhood friend, a daughter or sometimes even a son. It is far from being a solved problem and we need to focus on prevention and early detection.
More money is funneled into treatment research than prevention or detection each year. In fact, in 2010, $152 million of National Cancer Institute’s breast cancer funds went to treatment research, versus $101 million to detection/diagnosis and only $32 million to prevention. That needs to change. Did you know that new research shows that some forms of breast cancer may be caused by a virus? The HPV virus is the leading suspect. There is a vaccine for HPV (HPV is also responsible for most cervical cancer). Can you imagine if there was a vaccine that would prevent breast cancer? (**stats via Glamour Magazine, October 2012 issue.)
Did you also know that the average size of tumors detected by women with good health care is 1.5 cm or less? On the other hand, with poor/no health care, it is 1.5 to 5 cm’s. That is the size of a raspberry, compared to that of an orange. Education on self-exam is critical, especially in populations where healthcare is less than ideal and most especially in younger women who think it is a problem beyond their years.
All of which tells us that research and prevention need to be a focus. So, if you have ever been like me, and were on the fence about where to put any of your hard earned donation dollars, please consider my post. Because, this is the face of breast cancer – it is the face of my childhood friend.
I want to point out an organization that I think supports this cause in a fantastic and inspiring way, Bright Pink. This organization is primarily focused on the prevention and detection of breast cancer in young women, in particular those considered high risk. They use humor and modern technology, with programs like “Underwire Alerts – treasure your chest” that remind women via text message to perform their self-exam. In support of their efforts, all thirteen authors of our book, Write for the Fight: A Collection of Seasonal Essays have agreed to donate their royalties to Bright Pink.
To end this post, I leave you with something straight off of Heather’s Facebook page.
Heather – Thank you for letting me talk about something so personal, in such a public forum. Kick cancer’s butt. You can do it!