The damage breast cancer inflicts on women in New York state and the nation is immeasurable. It is the second-most common cancer among women in the United States. Black women die from breast cancer at a higher rate than white women.
In 2018, the latest year for which incidence data are available, in New York, 16,892 new cases of female breast cancer were reported, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The age-adjusted rate of new cancer cases was 135.6 per 100,000 women.
Perhaps the most egregious example of breast cancer’s cruelty is the stigma it leaves with its victims and survivors.
The pain, lifestyle change, chemotherapy and radiation treatments, risk of disfigurement and wedge it can drive between couples are just some of the impacts breast cancer can have on women and their families. The words no woman wants to hear are, “You have breast cancer.”
On Thursday, The Daily News and The Livingston County News dedicated pages to Breast Cancer Awareness Month, an annual commemoration to raise awareness about the impact of breast cancer – the second leading cause of cancer deaths in women.
The pink pages of both editions epitomize the courage and resilience of women who lost their fight against breast cancer, the survivors and the solidarity with which we support them.
Throughout the month of October, look for additional stories –including personal accounts – about breast cancer, its detection and treatment and continued advances to help make the disease survivable.
All women should follow the advice to regularly check for abnormal lumps or changes in the density of breast tissue and attend yearly physical exams. Talk to your health care provider about your family history and genetic risk for breast cancer to determine when you should begin mammograms or cancer screenings. Women ages 40 and older should get the recommended annual mammogram combined with monthly self-exams to maximize early detection.
Should a suspicious lump be found or a breast cancer diagnosis be made, find a doctor you trust, grab your sword and shield and keep your spirits high as you wage into this battle. Be fearless.
Let this fearlessness be a stark reminder to others to heed the life-saving prevention measures to reduce their risk of breast cancer or catch it early if it develops.
This month, and every month, we revere those who have been touched by a battle with cancer. Their stories and indefatigable spirit are the very definition of mettle, fortitude and valor. We are grateful for their courage to share their journeys and messages of hope that could save lives.