Why 'Awareness Months' matter
October is coming up, which means Breast Cancer Awareness Month is right around the corner. This is the time of year where everything goes pink – pink confetti, pink t-shirts, pink water bottles, and pink signs everywhere. For many people, this is too much pink and it doesn’t make sense to single out one cancer over another as seeming more ‘important’. Breast Cancer Awareness Month can even anger some folks who have had loved ones die from a lesser-known cancer that isn’t nationally recognized with an awareness month. While I agree with some that there may be a little too much pink come October, I think it is important to point out that nearly everyone knows someone with breast cancer.
Breast cancer is the most common cancer among women in the United States, with the exception of skin cancer. One in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetimes, and awareness months matter because they offer a time for us to think more deeply about our health and take action. Awareness months also encourage folks to talk about subjects that may be sensitive and uncomfortable, but are still very important to discuss at the dinner table.
As an outreach worker who regularly talks with people about cancer screenings and prevention, I have met many women whose reasons for not getting screened are that they would ‘rather not know’. The truth is more women than ever are being diagnosed with breast cancer, but fewer women are dying from it. These statistics may seem strange at first, because how can more women be diagnosed with cancer but not die from it? The answer can be found in more women getting screened regularly for breast cancer so that the cancer is found early, and an increased awareness of the disease and its impact on our health.
The more women who know the facts about breast cancer, the more likely they are to get screened. A mammogram is the best way to detect breast cancer early, when it may be easier to treat. If you or someone you know does not have health insurance, reach out to the Cancer Services Program of the Finger Lakes Region (CSP-FLR). This program pays for cervical, breast and colon cancer screenings and diagnostic care for eligible uninsured individuals who live in New York State. CSP-FLR is funded by the New York State Department of Health and is managed and facilitated by the Center for Community Health & Prevention at the University of Rochester Medical Center. You can contact them by calling 1-877-803-8070 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
In good health,
Regional Community Liaison CSP-FLR