October is a mixed bag for me. On one hand, the weather is ah-mazing and the Browns are playing. On the other hand, it’s Breast Cancer Awareness Month. A month I dread all year long. I’m a little touchy when it comes to the pink-washing of October after witnessing my mom take her last breath. Breast cancer stole her from me.
The Facebook games have already started (grrrrrrr). The memes of “pass this teddy bear along for Breast Cancer Awareness” have hit my inbox. And it makes my blood boil. What am I learning from a Facebook game? Oh, that’s right. I’m learning that you don’t know anything about breast cancer. And that changes right now – here are the top four-ish things you should know about breast cancer:
In the United States, someone dies from breast cancer every 14 minutes. This number has not decreased significantly in nearly 40 years despite a huge movement to raise awareness and funds for breast cancer research. Just wearing, buying, or even walking for “pink” does not reduce deaths from breast cancer.
An estimated 155,000 Americans are currently living with stage four (metastatic) breast cancer. Metastatic breast cancer accounts for approximately 40,000 deaths annually in the U.S.
No one dies from breast cancer
Death from breast cancer occurs when the cancer metastasizes. This means the original cancer breaks off and travels to different parts of the body. So, when my mom’s original stage two breast cancer metastasized and became stage four (metastatic) breast cancer, she had breast cancer in her bones, spine, ribs and lymph nodes. She went from treatable breast cancer to terminal breast cancer. In other words, when the breast cancer is localized ONLY in the breast, it is treatable. Spread to other parts of the body? Terminal.
Early detection is great, but….
It does not guarantee a cure. Metastatic breast cancer can occur 5, 10 or 15 years after a person’s original diagnosis and successful treatment checkups and annual mammograms.
What can you do to help?
To truly help find a cure, the best places I have found (and volunteer for) are METAvivor and the IBC Network Foundation. When you are wanting to make a real, measured difference in the lives of those affected by breast cancer, consider researching and supporting the efforts of these organizations.
Locally, Susan G. Komen Columbus is an outlet for you to volunteer/donate to.
Just one more BIG point…
There are pink products EVERYWHERE vying for your dollars. There are MANY (and I mean MANY) items that say “a portion of the proceeds from this item go to support finding a cure.” Some of the items DO give back to various breast cancer causes, but there are sadly a lot that have no real tie to the cause and truly give no money. I encourage you to read the label thoroughly if you want to purchase something to support research. If you can’t tell where your money is going when you purchase something, please put the item down and give your hard-earned money to a cause that can make a real difference.
I made a vow to my mom that I would do everything in my power so that another family wouldn’t suffer as mine did. I’m trying…and I hope that you’ll try too.
Tell me, have you or a loved one been affected by breast cancer?
How your dollars impact a cure:
- 100% of every dollar donated goes to fund research for metastatic breast cancer through METAvivor.
- 85% of every dollar donated goes to fund research through the IBC Network Foundation.
- 80% of every dollar donated supports mission programs and services through Susan G. Komen Columbus (Note: this is NOT saying they fund cancer research at 80%).