October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Last year, I wrote an article about turning it into Breast Cancer ACTION month and shared many ways we can and do get involved to show we are stronger than cancer.
I shared my personal experience with breast cancer— and now a decade after my mother beat it for the second time, it’s a great moment to reflect again on the ways we can work together to kick cancer’s ass!
Human Strength Overcomes
Breast cancer is the second leading cause of death in women over the age of 40. Breast cancer statistics can be overwhelming, and survival rates depend on a variety of factors ranging from treatment options to genetics.
Lucky for us, cancer doesn’t just prey on the weak. And it’s because of the immeasurable human strength in action taken against breast cancer that we also have so many survivors. For everybody who has fought this battle, either themselves or side by side with a loved one with a breast cancer diagnosis, we have made gains against this invisible monster.
When I think of my mother’s hard-won battle, I also think of my dad and how he found a way to raise funds for an experimental treatment that eventually helped my mom beat the disease not once but twice. I think of the early interventions she knew to take so doctors could catch it early the second time and treat it. I think about the power behind people working together over time to make gains.
It changed my mother. She went to war with breast cancer and didn’t come out unscathed. She was depleted and exhausted. I don’t think she was ever the same, but she was HERE. And she still is. Thanks to the human strength of the people who fought the battle before her, the patients who didn’t get the opportunity to watch their children and grandchildren grow up, the doctors and scientists who made strides over decades and generations to make sure my mother could, and that those who came after her have an even better chance to survive thanks to the involvement of families and communities who came together to refuse to take this laying down.
The fact that we recognize this month is thanks to an annual campaign created by the American Cancer Society to increase awareness about breast cancer. The point has been to educate women about the importance of regular breast checkups and screening for early detection and treatment of cancer and other diseases and risk factors.
I believe one day we will have a cure, but in the meantime, let’s have some gratitude for the women, and some men, who have come before to bear the deep scars and face lasting wounds and trauma as we learn more about how to fight the dragon. Let’s support and celebrate our communities and find ways to empower those on the front lines.
It all comes down to the strength in numbers. Whether we are fundraising and participating in survivor walks or whether we are doing our part to support the families of breast cancer victims, when we come together, only then can we prove we are stronger than cancer.