It wasn’t so long ago that breast cancer was a disease hidden from polite conversation, one that killed thousands of women a year in private. In many cases, the disease was treatable, but its nature spurred embarrassment and, as strange as it seems, deterred women from seeking medical attention or even having important talks with their doctors.
We have come a long way since then, fortunately. Pink ribbons, T-shirts, car magnets and even NFL equipment remind us that October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and there is still much to be done to eradicate this horrible disease.
That remains particularly true in the Twin Counties, where incidents of breast cancer remain higher than that of much of the rest of the state. The N.C. Department of Health and Human Services projects that nearly 100 women in Nash County will be diagnosed with breast cancer by the end of this year. About 60 women in Edgecombe County are likely to be disagnosed with the disease in 2013.
The “pink” campaign has done a terrific job of helping to raise money for more research into ways to prevent and treat breast cancer. But it’s vital for women to check themselves through self-examinations for lumps on a regular basis, undertake mammograms and discuss with their physicians their family history, age and other potential risk factors.
Bringing the subject into the open, where it can be discussed around dinner tables and between moms, daughters, sisters and friends has been a successful and welcome change over where we were a generation or two ago. But following up to make sure women pay attention to their bodies and consult with physicians regularly is just as critical.
Wear the T-shirts, enjoy the football games and “fight like a girl,” as the popular slogan goes. But keep in mind the serious intent that underlies the fun of the campaign.