Breast Cancer Awareness Month is about more than just wearing pink

Anna Deaver, Senior Coverage Editor

Each year, about 264,000 women are diagnosed with breast cancer. About 42,000 women die each year from it. With October being Breast Cancer Awareness month, I find myself reflecting more on the effect breast cancer has had on my family and the families of thousands in the United States.

13 years ago, my mom was diagnosed with Stage IV breast cancer. At the time, I was too young to understand exactly what that meant, but from what I knew, my mom was losing her hair and Dad said we’d have to help her with housework more. Now, as an 18 year old, it has become routine to know that my mom has a doctor’s appointment, PET scan, CT scan, or check up appointment.

My mom was lucky—the chemotherapy and radiation treatments worked, and she has been cancer free for many years. Of course, between the effects of the medicine on your body and of the treatment on your life, it’s difficult to ever really call someone “cancer free.”

Most people think that once you treat cancer, you can move on with your life like nothing happened. Unfortunately, if the cancer doesn’t stay with you, the effects of the medicine definitely will. Even 13 years later, my mom recently had jaw surgery to help with the deterioration of her bone marrow that the treatment caused.

So what does Breast Cancer Awareness Month mean?

News Medical describes Breast Cancer Awareness as “a movement that aims to increase awareness and reduce the stigma linked to the symptoms and treatment of breast cancer.”

What it means in reality is that every October, millions of people join together to support the fight against breast cancer. Race for the Cure raises money for research, increasing access to care, and to support those who have breast cancer.

The National Breast Cancer Foundation promotes their RISE campaign (Rally in Screening Everyone) with the goal of making sure that every woman has access to the cancer screenings that she needs.

Even here at John Carroll, we have our annual “Pink Out” football game. Last year, the women’s volleyball team wore pink jerseys. The Women’s Empowerment Club runs meeting to educate our community on Breast Cancer Awareness.

Senior Meghan Kerr, president of the Women’s Empowerment Club, said, “The Women’s Empowerment club finds it very important to bring attention to Breast Cancer Awareness, not only during October but all year round.”

During October, the Women’s Empowerment Club has meetings to bring attention to Breast Cancer Awareness and further educate club members and JC students on how to do at-home breast examinations and show their support for current fighters.

This month and after, consider joining the Race for the Cure or donating to the National Breast Cancer Foundation. You can show support in smaller ways by wearing a pink t-shirt or a ribbon pin.

Breast Cancer Awareness Month means a lot to me and my family. Breast cancer has affected my life and the lives of so many others around the United States and beyond. If you have it, take some time to reach out to anyone you know who is fighting breast cancer and let them know that you’re thinking of them.