By Magdalena Knapp, Editor
When most people hear the month “October” they think about things like Fall, Halloween, pumpkin carving, and of course pumpkin spice everything. Very few know about the importance of this month as it relates to a larger issue, an issue that affects one out of eight American women. October is the “International Breast Cancer Awareness Month”. Countries all over the world raise awareness for breast cancer during this month.
A few years ago, breast cancer was a topic no one would talk about, it was a taboo. Women had to suffer in silence; often they were not checked out regularly and missed the opportunity to catch discover the cancer and beat it early. Breast cancer awareness month was created to support women who suffer from breast cancer, as well as for the early detection and treatment of this specific kind of cancer.
Although breast cancer is the most common form of cancer in women, scientists have not yet found out what leads to this malicious illness. Each year, according to IARC Globocan in 2008, there are 1.38 million of women who are diagnosed with breast cancer, and 458.000 of those women do not win this battle. These numbers have been climbing in the past decades. This is mostly due to higher life expectancies and thus more time to contract the disease. To some these might be just numbers, but if we take in consideration the fact that one out of eight women in the United States will be diagnosed with this disease, at some point in our lives every one of us will be affected by it somehow. This is why it is so crucial for each and every one of us to take action.
Breast Cancer Awareness Month offers many different possibilities to people across the globe to raise money for cancer research. There are two-day-long walks where people can participate to raise money, in Atlanta there is a 30 mile walk. Canada organizes an even bigger walk: 60 km or (37.282 miles for you Americans). If you want to raise money for breast cancer during this special month, you can participate in the St. Louis, MO, one-day-long breast cancer walk; it is barely three miles!
Picture from the 2015 STL Breast Cancer Walk
The international symbol of breast cancer awareness is the pink ribbon. Originally, a woman named Charlotte Hayley, who beat breast cancer, tried to raise awareness for the illness by using a peach colored ribbon and attaching it to cards with the description “The National Cancer Institute’s annual budget is 1.8 billion US dollars, and only 5 percent goes to cancer prevention. Help us wake up our legislators and America by wearing this ribbon.”, and handing them out to people. Alexandra Penney, a woman working on the Self magazine’s 1992 National Breast Cancer Awareness Month issue wanted to use her peach colored ribbon for her campaign, but Hayley renounced her offer. Penney decided to use a pink ribbon instead, and this is how the pink ribbon became the international symbol of breast cancer.
Universities all around the country are participating in the effort to raise awareness for this sickness as well through fundraising campaigns. McKendree University hosted such an event last year, called “Relay for Life”. Students walked and ran in the MPCC for hours, played games, and had a good time, all of this while actually helping fight cancer and raise awareness. Sports fans all around the United States also join the effort to raise money and awareness by participating at events such as “Swim Across America”. One of these events (held in major cities across America) is held in Innsbrook, MO at the end of August annually. The McKendree Swimming team was one of the many local college teams there fighting against waves and cancer.
Part of the Mckendree Swim Team at Swim Across America
Every single year many women die, families lose their mothers, parents their daughters, and husbands their wives to breast cancer. In 98% of the cases early detection can help to save a woman’s life. Breast Cancer Awareness Month should help women get educated about getting checked out while also helping them to actually take the next step and get checked out. It does not take more than an hour and it can make your life considerably longer. Have you or your loved ones been checked out yet?