REAL Breast Cancer Awareness

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breast-cancerOctober 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:

Hard numbers

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.

mom

Tell me, have you or a loved one been affected by breast cancer?

 

Writer’s Notes

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%).
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Jessica is a native of Cleveland, OH (well, a small town 30-minutes outside of CLE, Perry, have you heard of it?!) who moved with her family of five to Columbus in 2014 on a giant leap of faith. Columbus has not disappointed from Day One. She is mom to three great kids, Sadie (7), Colin (5) and Elise (3). Somehow the kids ended up each being 26-months apart, something this not-so-mathematically inclined mama definitely did not plan! She’s been married to her husband Brian for ten years and credits him for (mostly) keeping her crazy in check. Her work is one of her passions – she works media relations in the field of organ, eye and tissue donation. Her job brings her great pride and joy and she actually looks forward going into work every single day. Her other passion is advocating for stage four breast cancer research. Jessica lost her mom in 2013, after a two-year, harrowing road with cancer. She tries to raise awareness for the spread of breast cancer and to educate others on supporting causes that fund stage four research to save lives. Jessica recently won her first Blue Ribbon at the Ohio State Fair for “Button Price” a button art (yes, that’s a thing) rendition of Prince (the singer and purple legend), loves Beyoncé, will never turn down the opportunity of a mid-Saturday nap and is excited to continue exploring this great city we live in!

2 COMMENTS

  1. Thank you for writing this. I’m so sorry about your mom. I lost one of my closest friends to “breast cancer” (yes, it travelled to her stomach and other organs) just over a year ago. I have since had a really mixed reaction to “breast cancer awareness” – maybe because I’m still angry – but reading your post helped me feel a little more normal in my reaction! Thanks for providing those helpful links so we can know how to really make a difference!

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