October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. There will be many events going on in and around Brown County, but the most important thing to remember is that women need to have yearly mammograms.

I’ve written in this space before about family to try and give you, the reader, a little bit on insight about who I am, where I’ve come from and what worldly knowledge I may or may not possess.

As we all know, October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Yes, I know this is Oct. 4, even though this is being written in the final hours of September. We still have plenty of time left this month.

This month is more than just slogans, banners, T-shirts, stickers and the occasional tattoo raising awareness about breast cancer. They all serve as a reminder that women need to make sure they are getting mammograms and visiting the doctor regularly.

As a youngster in Pennsylvania, I was very close to my grandmother. I spent a good bit of time at her house when I wasn’t out playing baseball, football or playing such great backyard games as jailbreak and others with friends.

When I was in high school it was divulged that my grandmother was diagnosed with breast cancer. She quickly underwent radiation therapy and was able to beat the disease with proper treatment.

That was my first experience with anyone who had cancer. Coincidentally my uncle, who was my grandmother’s son, was diagnosed with Leukemia at the same time. My uncle passed away in the spring of 1995. My grandmother wouldn’t join him until the fall of 2003.

Too often we think we are stronger than any steel and that we can’t be broken. “I don’t need to go to the doctor, I am just fine,” is a statement we have all uttered at least once. I have long subscribed to that theory and found myself in the Brownwood Regional Medical Center’s emergency room the weekend of the Feels Like Home Celebration with a pneumonia diagnosis.

We need to take care of ourselves. That means men and women. We need to ensure our longevity by have regular checkups and go to the doctor when needed, especially breast cancer.

Early detection – benign or cancerous – is the only way to ensure we have a fighting chance.

Breast cancer affects everyone, not just the patient. The loved ones surrounding that person are affected as they realize how much that person meant to them. The parents, siblings, children and other relatives are stopped dead in their tracks.

A lump is a lump. It always seems there is a 50/50 chance that it will be cancerous. Early detection is a key that can take that 50/50 chance and with proper treatment turn it into survival. However, there are times that cancer rears its ugly head and can’t be beaten no matter how hard the doctors and patients try. It is a fact of life.

Ladies, mammograms are vital.

I have a lot of female friends who complain about having them done, but the brilliant smiles that pervade when a clean bill of health is issued far outweighs the sadness accompanied with a cancer-and-treatment diagnosis.

October is more than just Halloween, candy and jack-o’-lanterns and the changing of the leaves. The month serves as a reminder of how breast cancer can affect and man or woman. There will be Pink Out Nights that serve as fundraisers held this month, in addition to the various fundraising efforts held throughout the year.

These fundraisers have played a vital role in increasing the survival rate of women affected by breast cancer exponentially over the years. The funds raised go to cancer research. That research is working.

Survival rates have increased over the past 20 years through research and treatment, and women are living longer after a breast cancer diagnosis. According to the American Cancer Society, of those diagnosed with breast cancer 89 percent are still living after five years, 83 percent are living 10 years after diagnosis and 78 percent are living 15 years after diagnosis.

Over the course of my career, I have been fortunate enough to interview doctors, health care professionals and breast cancer survivors on this very subject.

I feel it is very important to raise awareness, and our society has done a great job of doing just that.

When talking to the doctors, I’ve heard such great things are without the monies raised during these fundraisers the research that has been conducted pertaining to breast cancer would not have been possible.

In turn, the research has found ways of detecting and treating breast cancer and increasing survival rates.

When talking to health care professionals, they all have said the same thing. It only takes a little bit of time out of one day to get yourself check out. That can make a big difference in survival rates.

When talking to breast cancer survivors they are all very appreciative of the doctors, health care professionals and cancer support groups, who provide moral and monetary support, to them still being here today and extending their lives.

Treatments have improved over the years, and breast cancer is being beaten at a higher rate than every before.

While this is breast cancer awareness month, each and every day should be breast cancer awareness day, and any cancer for that matter.

For the next 365 days, let’s raise funds, let’s raise awareness and, most importantly, let’s get checked.

 

Brent Addleman is managing editor of the Brownwood Bulletin. He can be reached by calling 325-641-3110, or email baddleman@brownwoodbulletin.com. Twitter: @BWD_Editor.