October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and a friend of mine is now a 2 year survivor of breast cancer. I can remember the fear in her eyes when she found out, I can only imagine what was going through her head. But I also remember her incredible strength, she won’t admit to it but it was there.
As she went through diagnosis and treatments I could see major changes in her attitude and her will to survive. She made light of the treatments, made a game out of choosing different wigs. The whole time she was able keep up her job, keep up her own strength and resolve and more importantly, she was able to help those around her keep up their strength.
I learned that in the beginning when she was in her darkest hours she meet two women that she refers to as “Her Angles”. These two women were survivors themselves and were with my friend every step of her journey. The American Cancer Society Making Strides Against Breast Cancer Walk helped make those “Angles” possible.
So here we are two years later and my friend is an active member of our local “Making strides Against Breast Cancer” group, she speaks at local meetings and is a great supporter of the walks by recruiting walkers and gathering donations.
Sponsored by the American Cancer Society since 1993 close to seven million walkers have raised more than $400 million dollars according to their website. It is a noncompetitive event and goes between 3 and 5 miles. Again, according to their web site “In 2010 alone, nearly 800,000 walkers across the country collected more than $60 million to save lives from breast cancer. Thanks in part to the dollars raised by Making Strides supporters, 2.5 million breast cancer survivors will celebrate another birthday this year”.
Some breast cancer facts (provided by breastcancer.org):
– About 1 in 8 women in the United States (12%) will develop invasive breast cancer over the course of her lifetime.
– About 1,970 new cases of invasive breast cancer were expected to be diagnosed in men in 2010. Less than 1% of all new breast cancer cases occur in men.
– The most significant risk factors for breast cancer are gender (being a woman) and age (growing older).
– About 70-80% of breast cancers occur in women who have no family history of breast cancer. These occur due to genetic abnormalities that happen as a result of the aging process and life in general, rather than inherited mutations.
– A woman’s risk of breast cancer approximately doubles if she has a first-degree relative (mother, sister, daughter) who has been diagnosed with breast cancer. About 20-30% of women diagnosed with breast cancer have a family history of breast cancer.
I was really surprised when I saw those actual numbers. It has reached a point where everyone knows someone whose life has been affected by breast cancer, including me. I was even more surprised to see that men can also fall victim as well. We all should be thankful that organizations like this exist and I encourage everyone to support them. Got to the American Cancer Society Making strides Against Breast Cancer website and find an event near you. If you can, join the walk. If you cannot walk then please donate. Let’s make it possible for other survivors to find their “Angels”.