October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and the color pink will be everywhere. In recent years, I’ve read many scathing editorials and angry Facebook posts about “Pinktober.” Critics of “Pinktober” have many valid points.
Some companies donate heavily to breast cancer research and programs for breast cancer patients, while other companies are quick to cover unhealthy products in pink for profit.
This is known as pink-washing; as consumers, we must be a powerful voice for truth in marketing. Several websites list these pink products and tell you which companies donate the highest (and lowest) percentages from the sale of their pink products to help fight breast cancer and which products are the healthiest choices. The Charity Navigator is a reliable website for information about breast cancer charities (https://www.charitynavigator.org/index.cfm?bay=content.view&cpid=497),
and https://www.prevention.com/health/health-concerns/20-pink-products-that-actually-benefit-breast-cancer-causes/slide/16 lists several companies and their products. Figures are given for the amount of money that will be donated from your purchase and where that money will go.
As a breast cancer survivor, I have a unique opinion on the pink debate. If this sea of pink reminds one woman (or man) to perform monthly breast self-examinations, schedule a check-up with their physician, or get a mammogram I’m less concerned about who does the painting.
It’s about saving lives; information is power and breast cancer research often produces information, medicines, and treatments to benefit the fight against all types of cancer. No matter how you feel about seeing “pink” this month, remember this… when breast cancer is detected early, and is in the localized stage, the 5-year relative survival rate is 100%.
Hair grows back; you find a new normal and actually look forward to blowing out those birthday candles!
Breast cancer is a disease in which malignant cancer cells form in the tissue of the breast. It is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in women, and the second leading cause of death among women. Every man and woman is born with breast cells and breast tissue that have the possibility to develop into cancer.
One in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in her lifetime. About 2,600 men in the United States are diagnosed with breast cancer each year. Men have a higher mortality rate from breast cancer than women because they are not routinely screened for breast cancer and diagnosis is often delayed. However, when detected early, survival rates among men and women are the same.
African American women have a slightly lower rate of incidence of breast cancer, but mortality rates are higher and the median age of diagnosis is 59 as opposed to 63 for white women.
This year an estimated 252,710 women in the United States will be diagnosed with new cases of primary breast cancer, and over forty thousand women will die of breast cancer. Women who have close blood relatives with breast cancer have a higher risk of the disease; however, more than 75% of women with breast cancer have no family history of the disease and less than 10% have a known gene mutation that increases risk.
There are 3.1 million breast cancer survivors in the United States today; deaths from breast cancer have been declining. From 1989-2014 mortality rates for breast cancer in women have decreased by almost 39% because of better screening methods, early detection, increased awareness, and better treatment options. This translates into about 300,000 saved lives.
I was diagnosed in October 2008, and it occurs to me that I am not only 1 in 8; I am also one in 3.1 million, and I am most probably one of those 300,000 additional women who gets to blow out the candles on her birthday cake and hug her loved ones.
Your Breast Cancer Prevention/Early Detection Plan
- Perform monthly breast self-exams
- Visit your doctor regularly for scheduled clinical breast exams
- Be honest about your health history with your physician
- Know your family’s health history
- Follow your healthcare provider's recommendations for mammograms, which will depend on your age and health history.
- Develop and maintain a healthy lifestyle
- Maintain an active lifestyle (get regular exercise and adequate sleep)
- Maintain a healthy body weight
- Eat a balanced diet rich in fruits and vegetables
- Don’t smoke
- Limit your consumption of alcohol
Remember in the fight against breast cancer take nothing for granted.
Information for this article was taken from www.nationalbreastcancer.org and www.cancer.org.