Every October is an important month — Breast Cancer Awareness Month. This is a major international health campaign organized by breast cancer charities to increase awareness of the disease and to raise funds for research, prevention, diagnosis, treatment and a cure. The campaign also offers support to anyone affected by breast cancer during his or her life.
According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, breast cancer is the second most common cancer found in women. As many as one in every eight women born today in the United States will get breast cancer at some point.
The good news is that this is survivable if it is caught and treated early. One way to determine if someone has breast cancer is by taking a mammogram.
A mammogram is an x-ray picture of the breast that can detect lumps and help find cancer. Even celebrities are not immune to having breast cancer at some point in their lives. TV hostess Joan Lunden was diagnosed with an aggressive type of breast cancer in June. She has undergone chemotherapy and a lumpectomy as part of what she called “a very complicated battle.” Lunden was recently on NBC’s “Today” talking about her ordeal. “Sometimes, you just want to give voice to other people,” Lunden said.
Actress Christina Applegate also had her own ordeal with breast cancer. During the summer of 2008, she was diagnosed with breast cancer. She chose to have a double mastectomy even though the cancer was only found in one breast. Christina’s mother is a repeat breast cancer survivor, so with a family history of the disease, Applegate said she chose the double mastectomy to reduce the chance that the cancer could spread or return.
Applegate later founded the Right Action for Women, a nonprofit that provides financial aid to women at high risk of breast cancer.
According to the Huffington Post, Angelina Jolie also took steps to prevent breast cancer. She underwent a double mastectomy and reconstructive surgery after being told she had as much as an 87 percent chance of getting breast cancer because she carries the BRCA1 gene. She lost her mother to ovarian cancer and her aunt to breast cancer.
“Once I knew that this was my reality, I decided to be proactive and to minimize the risk as much I could,” Jolie said.
One organization that is spreading the word about breast cancer is the Susan G. Komen organization. According to its website, in 1980, Nancy G. Brinker promised her dying sister, Susan, that she would do everything in her power to end breast cancer forever. In 1982 that promise became the Susan G. Komen organization, and it was the beginning of a global movement to end breast cancer.
The organization that started with only $200 and a handful of potential donor names has now grown into the world’s largest nonprofit source of funding in the fight against breast cancer. More than $2.5 billion has been raised in groundbreaking research, community health outreach, advocacy and programs in more than 30 countries.
Sports personalities are also trying to raise awareness for breast cancer. NASCAR driver Danica Patrick is trading her bright green No. 10 Sprint Cup Chevrolet for a pink look to promote breast cancer awareness during the month of October. Her major sponsor, GoDaddy, is also hoping that millions of NASCAR fans and others will be inspired to donate or spread the word.
According to AZcentral, Patrick’s pink race car is part of GoDaddy’s “Put the Brakes on Breast Cancer” campaign, which started last month. The names of those impacted by the disease will be placed on the car for the Martinsville race on Oct. 26 in Ridgeway, Virginia. Patrick will also sport a pink fire suit the last three October races.
“I think far too many people know someone affected by this disease,” Patrick told writer Angelique Soenarie of AZcentral. Patrick’s friend had a double masectomy after testing positive for the breast cancer gene.
“We wanted to do something a little different this year, something to honor people who have fought the disease, and we wanted to do it in a way that might help drive donations.”
One way people can show support for breast cancer is by simply wearing a pink ribbon on their shirt. The pink ribbon has been the official symbol of National Breast Cancer Awareness Month since 1992.