Deborah Rose column: Think pink and ‘be proactive’
Pink is the color of the month.
Sure, the colors of fall are beautiful, but for those who want to raise awareness for breast cancer health, it’s all about pink.
October is designated as National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, a 31-day international health campaign organized to increase awareness of the disease and raise funds for research.
It’s been 35 years since the special month has been in place, having been founded through a partnership between the American Cancer Society and a division of pharmaceutical company that manufactures anti-breast cancer drugs.
This month, I will join at least one other family member in having mammogram screenings.
It’s important for me, as well as my mother, who is a breast cancer survivor.
One in eight women are diagnosed with it.
My mom was diagnosed with breast cancer five years ago. In the year and a half that followed, she underwent a lumpectomy, chemotherapy and radiation. It seemed like it would never end.
She lost all her hair, but it didn’t seem to let it get her down. She wore hats when she wanted to.
As those who have experienced it know, cancer treatment is exhausting, both physically and emotionally.
It takes a toll on loved ones, too, as caregivers step up to take patients to and from doctor appointments, handle household tasks and provide steadfast love and support.
It was hard for me because I didn’t live nearby, so I was unable to support her the way I had hoped. I wanted to take her to more treatments than I was able. I wanted to be there to give her hugs and hold her hand when she fell asleep while she was on the chemo drip.
But I did what I could during that time and continue to do what I can each passing year as she marks another anniversary of remission.
The National Breast Cancer Foundation reports an estimated 276,480 new cases of invasive breast cancer will be diagnosed in women in the U.S. this year. That impacts a tremendous amount of people.
Also: an additional 48,530 new cases of non-invasive breast cancer will be diagnosed in women; an estimated 2,620 men will be diagnosed with breast cancer this year; and an estimated 42,170 women will die from breast cancer in America this year.
There is some good news. Sixty-four percent of breast cancer cases are diagnosed before the cancer spreads outside of the breast, for which the survival rate is 99 percent.
That’s why it’s so important to be proactive about one’s health. The earlier the cancer is detected, the better chances of survival.
That’s what this month is all about — educating individuals about the facts and raising awareness of how to take action.
Regular screenings such as mammograms and self-breast exams are vital.
Now, during Breast Cancer Awareness Month, is the time to let others know of the importance of breast health education and encourage loved ones to be proactive about health.
Go one step further, too. Be proactive yourself. Don’t let fear of what a doctor might say get in the way of you making a call to set up an appointment for a screening. Make the call.
And don’t just do it for breast cancer. Do it for your general health — physical, mental and spiritual health.
We all need to nurture ourselves. We can easily get caught up in life’s happenings and put off our own care.
But if we aren’t our best self health-wise, we can’t be our best self for our loved ones.
Deborah Rose is a lifelong New Milford resident who has worked at The Spectrum since its inception in 1998. She can be reached by email at email@example.com.