September 2, 2014
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Painting the world pink

Has anyone else noticed that when the leaves begin to change colors, the world also starts to think pink?

As everyone should know by now, October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, a concept that has become a movement over the years.

Hair salons all over the state are sponsoring cut-a-thons to raise money for various organizations in support of breast cancer patients. The Gloria Gemma Breast Cancer Resource Foundation sponsored their annual Flames of Hope Celebration this past weekend with nearly 100,000 participants (the largest breast cancer awareness event in the Northeast, according to their website). Everywhere you look, people, buildings and products are sporting pink ribbons.

Even NFL players are wearing pink cleats and gloves for their games this month.

It seems amazing to think that in the past, people never even talked about fighting and surviving breast cancer, or any disease for that matter. It seemed people would go into hiding, fight their disease and come back if they were victorious.

But that is certainly not the case today. Survivors and fighters of breast cancer are honored and recognized for their strength at events such as The Gloria Gemma Foundation Flames of Hope Run/Walk, Illuminations of Life Ceremony, and many other fundraising events for organizations such as the American Cancer Society or Susan G. Koman For The Cure.

While raising money at events supports patients, research and treatment, what does wearing pink for the month of October do for the reported 232,340 new people who will be diagnosed with invasive breast cancer this year? According to the American Cancer Society, breast cancer is still the second leading cause of death for women, after lung cancer, and one in eight women in the United States will be diagnosed with the disease.

But they also report that since 1989, that death rate has been decreasing because of early detection through screenings and increased awareness.

By wearing a pink ribbon pin or wearing that shirt you got at a breast cancer awareness 5k to the gym, maybe you will remind someone to give themselves a self-breast exam or schedule their next mammogram. You may even save someone’s life by helping him or her catch the disease at an early stage.

Yes, him or her. It is often forgotten that, according to the Gloria Gemma Foundation, 2 percent of people diagnosed with breast cancer are male, bringing their risk to one in 1,000.

By bringing the disease out into the open and putting faces to it, such as Gloria Gemma or the many celebrities who have publicly shared their fights such as Angelina Jolie or Sheryl Crow, society is slowly but surely changing their attitude about a cancer diagnosis.

Facing breast or any other form of cancer will always be a fight, but the month of October is just one reminder that people support those affected by this disease, and there is always hope.


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