Help find a cure

Posted: 09/18/09

Forty-thousand, one hundred-seventy. That’s about how many women will die of breast cancer this year according to the American Cancer Society. October is Breast Cancer Awareness month. While it is great that this month brings special attention to a cause that impacts so many, it is important not to forget breast cancer after October.

Let’s make it a point to fight breast cancer every month. Breast cancer is a cause especially close to my heart. Why? My mother lost her long battle with this terrible disease in April. Fortunately, her breast cancer was detected early enough that it could be treated. While she died before her 56th birthday, she lived much longer because she got screened for it early.

Based on my own experiences all I can say is this: get your cancer screenings. Mammograms are not the most fun thing in the world I realize, but the benefits of preventative care are too numerous to mention. Aside from getting cancer screenings there are many other things you can do. A really easy one is to buy some of the pink ribbon items in stores right now.

For those of you out there with a sweet tooth, there are pink and white M&Ms that benefit the Susan Komen foundation. You get your chocolate fix and help a good cause. It’s a win-win. There are also pink bracelets, pink water bottles, even pink sneakers from New Balance, which I am proudly sporting as I write this article.

Even the NFL and MLB have gotten into the action. MLB started its own “Going to Bat Against Breast Cancer” campaign a few years ago. Special pink bats were made and many were later signed and sold to benefit the Susan Komen Foundation. This month the NFL joined in. “A Crucial Catch” is the name of the NFL’s new campaign to promote breast cancer awareness. You can buy pink NFL gear and a portion of the sales will go to breast cancer research.

Another thing you can do besides getting your cancer screenings and buying pink ribbon themed merchandise is participating in Relay for Life. There is one every year at UW-Eau Claire that is put on by Colleges Against Cancer. I did it a few years ago and benefited greatly. You form a team and raise money for the American Caner Society before and during the event. On the day of relay you share in doing laps on a track and each team has its own campsite where they can raise even more money. There are lots of other fun activities as well. There are so many benefits to participating I cannot list them here.

The other thing you can do is offer to help someone with cancer in his or her day-to-day life. As I found out cancer makes the little things harder for people to do. Also, offering to take the shift of a caregiver can make a huge difference. I was lucky to have a lot of help in my mother’s last few days. Take steps to prevent caregiver burnout.

Finally, do yourself a favor and take steps to prevent cancer. According to the American Cancer Society’s Web site, you can lower your risk of getting cancer by taking the following steps: limit alcohol intake, exercise regularly and maintain a healthy body weight.

As you can see, there are many things you can do for Breast Cancer Awareness month, but don’t let it stop at the end of October. Until we find a cure, this is going to be an ongoing battle for people everywhere. Unfortunately, there is hardly a person out there that is not touched in someway by breast cancer.

If by some chance you are one of the many diagnosed with breast cancer I can only urge you to take a cue from my mother. When she had to have a mastectomy she was of course devastated that cancer had entered her life, but she did not let it ruin her love of life. She told me the bad news was she had to have the surgery, but the good news was she would never have to go through bra shopping again. If cancer enters your life in one way or another just remember the slogan of Relay for Life: celebrate, remember, fight back.