Sources tell us one in eight women will develop invasive breast cancer in her lifetime, though through advances in science and medicine there are currently more than 2.9 million breast cancer survivors in the U.S. In fact it is believed very few of us don’t have at least a family member, friend, acquaintance or know of someone touched by the disease.
Conceived by various public service organizations, professional medical organizations, government agencies, and charities to raise global awareness of the disease, National Breast Cancer Awareness Month brings together survivors and other supporters in the pursuit of a cure. And though statistics show the death rate from cancer overall has declined by 20% since its peak in 1991, breast cancer is the second leading cause of death in women, exceeded only by lung cancer.
By the end of this year, a projected 232,340 new invasive breast cancer cases will be diagnosed in the U.S., along with 64,640 new cases of non-invasive carcinoma in situ (CIS): the earliest form of breast cancer. Though focused more on women, men certainly are not exempt from the disease and in fact male breast cancer has its own advocacy groups including Men Against Breast Cancer, Out of the Shadow of Pink, and the Brandon Greening Foundation for Breast Cancer in Men. The third week in October has been designated as “Male Breast Cancer Awareness Week.”
With fundraising activities manifested in thousands of walks, runs, silent auctions, corporate sponsorships, illuminated buildings in pink such as the Empire State Building, Tokyo Tower, and the White House, and of course the wearing of pink ribbons, the goal to wipe out breast cancer well in advance of the next millennium is decidedly on track. According to information and fund raising entities such as The Susan G. Komen Foundation, founded in 1982 by Nancy Brinker, Komen’s sister, and The Breast Cancer Research Foundation, established by Evelyn Lauder in 1993, the rate of breast cancer research continues to snowball.
So what steps can you take to help steel yourself from breast cancer, and also spread the word about this insidious disease? While clinical breast examinations and mammography are considered the first line of defense in the arsenal against early detection, breast self-examinations are also encouraged with any discovered changes or questions to be reported to your doctor.
To increase awareness, thousands of volunteer informational, educational, and fund raising opportunities exist to foster breast cancer awareness. Among them, the more popular 3-day Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure and 2-day Avon Walk for Breast Cancer take place in multiple venues throughout the year. Hundreds of nonprofit organizations such as the National Breast Cancer Foundation, Inc. and the Prevent Cancer Foundation seek sponsors, volunteers, and may offer planned giving options. If you are proficient or even in the process of building expertise in marketing, social media, grant writing, or perhaps you enjoy community outreach, these organizations and others may be able to use your skills for projects and events on a local, regional or national level.
For more information about National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, this site has a list of participating organizations and is a good place to start.