Breast cancer awareness month begins

     The chance of a woman being diagnosed with invasive breast cancer is 1 in 8. The chance of it killing her is 1 in 35.

     October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. It’s the time of year when stores display pink ribbons and bracelets, and pink feather boas become more than a fashion statement.  It is also when the country unites to support those who have won and remember those who have lost their battle with cancer.

     Throughout the month, events will be held locally, nationally, and internationally to spread awareness concerning breast cancer.

Walkers of the “Three Days, Three Ways” cross the finish line.
Walkers of the “Three Days, Three Ways” cross the finish line.

     Seattle held its annual Breast Cancer 3-Day Walk on September 11-13. Proceeds from the walk went to the Susan G. Komen for the Cure Foundation.

“The Breast Cancer 3-Day is a unique event in which participants connect with each other from the moment they sign up for the event until they take their last steps into Closing Ceremonies. Upon registration, walkers can join teams, attend helpful meetings and meet new friends during training walks. The sense of community is heightened on-event when the walkers spend all day together on the route and then return to camp, their home-away-from-home, to bond over hot meals, upbeat entertainment and cozy pink two-person sleeping tents,” said Kaylan Viveros, the Breast Cancer 3-Day media relations officer.

The American Cancer Society has scheduled several Making Strides Against Breast Cancer events. On Saturday, October 10, events were held in Moses Lake and Tacoma, and one will be held in Yakima on Saturday, October 24. 

The American Society of Clinical Oncology held the 2009 Breast Cancer Symposium on October 8-10, which featured presentations on the latest research concerning breast cancer treatment and prevention. At the same time, a Global Breast Cancer Conference was held in Seoul, Korea where researchers, scientists, doctors, policy makers, and others met to increase global awareness of breast cancer through their work.

     Many members of the Bellevue College community know someone who has been diagnosed with breast cancer.

     BC’s very own president, Jean Floten, was diagnosed with breast cancer a couple of months ago. In a memo sent out to BC’s staff, Floten wrote “I have a wonderful surgeon at Swedish who has told me all the positive words I wanted to hear – small, contained, very treatable.”

     Floten also said, “I know how caring and thoughtful you [BC’s staff] are, so the natural thing you may be asking is ‘What can I do?’  For women, please have a mammogram.  For men — please encourage your women friends and family members to do the same.  It really does save lives.”

     The sooner a breast cancer is found, the better the chances are for survival. That is why it is important for women to have regular screenings for breast cancer.

Thanks to better access to mammography and more targeted treatments, deaths related to breast cancer have dropped more than two percent every year since 1990. However, the death rate from breast cancer among black women is still 40 percent higher than the death rate for white women.

     According to the American Cancer Society (ACS), “In 2009, an estimated 192,370 new cases of invasive breast cancer will be diagnosed among women, as well as an estimated 62,280 additional cases of in situ breast cancer.”  In situ just means that the cancer cells are confined to ducts or lobules.

     Also according to the ACS, “In 2009, approximately 40,170 women are expected to die from breast cancer. Only lung cancer accounts for more deaths in women. In 2009, about 1,910 cases of breast cancer are expected to occur among men, accounting about 1% of all breast cancers. In addition, approximately 440 men will die from breast cancer.”

     The aim of Breast Cancer Awareness month is to spread awareness in order to decrease these figures in the years to come.