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October provides opportunity to promote breast cancer awareness

You’ve probably noticed something a little different about the print version of your Franklin County Times this week. No, it’s not a mistake; this paper is supposed to be pink.

For many, October is nearly synonymous with breast cancer awareness – and that awareness is, by long-standing tradition, associated with the color pink. The color of our newspaper this week is our effort to get behind the cause of breast cancer awareness – to celebrate survivors, to support those presently fighting and to encourage everyone to keep an eye on their health and be aware of the signs and symptoms of breast cancer.

October was first dedicated for breast cancer awareness in 1985, and today the annual month-long campaign continues as a call to be tuned into one’s breast health, to strengthen support for those battling the disease and to share information about symptoms, diagnosis and treatment of the cancer that has impacted so many.

According to the World Health Organization, breast cancer impacts about 2.1 million women each year and causes the greatest number of cancer-related deaths among women – according to the National Breast Cancer Foundation, an estimated 42,170 women will die from breast cancer in the U.S. alone this year.

In addition, more than 2,000 men in the U.S. are diagnosed with breast cancer, and 500 die from the disease, each year.

Although the numbers might sound bleak, there’s good news, too. The NBCF estimates there are more than 3.5 million breast cancer survivors in the United States. Additionally, the foundation reports a gradual reduction in cancer incidence among women age 50 and older in recent years – and as research into detection, diagnosis and treatment continues, we can certainly have hope for an even brighter future.

We want to stand behind those for whom October stirs feelings about survivorship and support – and that’s nearly everyone. You will be hard pressed to find someone who has not been directly or indirectly impacted by a breast cancer diagnosis.

Although the “commercialization” of breast cancer and the awareness month have caused some to scoff at the abundance of pink and the doom-and-gloom messaging, the fact is, breast cancer is a real problem hurting real people – our family and friends, our neighbors and our community.

If you’re at risk for breast cancer – and one of the No. 1 risk factors is “being female” – we join the voices urging proactive self exams and mammograms. Early detection is key to successful treatment of breast cancer.

If you think you can’t afford a mammogram or other scan, Russellville Hospital might be able to help. The Russellville Fire Department’s annual Breast Cancer Awareness T-shirt sale helps support a fund at the hospital that benefits women who might need, but find it challenging to pay for, such scans.

Bottom line, October is as good a time as any to tune into the facts about breast cancer and either take steps yourself, or encourage others to take steps, to keep this cancer at bay.