October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month (BCAM), and following skin cancer, breast cancer is the most common cancer American women battle, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
BCAM, according to the National Breast Cancer Foundation, is “an annual campaign to increase awareness of the disease.” NBCF states, “One in eight women in the United States will be diagnosed with breast cancer in her lifetime. According to the World Health Organization, breast cancer is the most common cancer among women worldwide, claiming the lives of hundreds of thousands of women each year and affecting countries at all levels of modernization.”
Zaylie Evans, a freshman from Washington studying biology, said, “My mother was diagnosed with breast cancer when I was 13. It was easily the most frightening moment of my life as well as my family. Luckily, she survived and has been cancer free for over five years now.”
Throughout the month people wear pink and pink ribbons to bring awareness to the disease. Additionally, NBCF officials encourages awareness by learning how to detect breast cancer early on through education and support services. They suggest “adult women of all ages… perform breast self-exams at least once a month.”
NBCF information also advises to identify abnormalities annual clinical breast exams from a person’s healthcare professional. The CDC states possible symptoms of breast cancer as, “Any change in the size or the shape of the breast, pain in any area of the breast, nipple discharge other than breast milk (including blood), a new lump in the breast or underarm.”
When asked what BCAM meant to her, Evans said, “I like to take some time to think about the lives affected. I am so grateful my mother survived this disease. Every October it reminds me of those trying times.... It reminds me how I want to spread awareness and help those families that might be affected just like mine was.”
Nate Heiden, a sophomore from Washington studying biology, said, “Growing up, one of my really close friend’s mom had breast cancer. Obviously, I wasn’t very close with her mom, but it still was emotional for me to watch the affect that this disease had on someone I cared about.” He continued, “Even though my friend didn’t have breast cancer, it still pained her and it was hard for me to watch.” Heiden also said he plans to raise awareness this month by wearing pink a few days in October.
The NBCF states the cause of breast cancer is not exactly known but is always caused by damage to a cell’s DNA. It emphasized caffeine, deodorant, microwaves, cell phones and contact with someone who has cancer do not cause breast cancer.
While the NBCF information says breast cancer in males in rare, men can still develop the cancer. The NBCF explains that men have a higher mortality rate than women with breast cancer because they are less aware that a lump could be breast cancer.
Through email sign up, the NBCF offers multiple free guides explaining when to get tested, how often, and early detection. More information for breast cancer awareness and education can be found here.