Editorial: More than a color

If breast cancer hasn’t touched your life yet, it will. One of the unofficial mantras of breast cancer fighters and survivors is “Everyone knows someone.”

If you were to visit the support group for survivors of breast cancer held monthly at Wilton Library, you might see a neighbor, a friend, or a friend of a friend. (For information, visit breastcancersurvival.org.)

And while breast cancer awareness seems to have taken on the theme color of pink, understanding it, preventing it, and supporting those with it is more than sporting a pink T-shirt, a pink hat, or buying your favorite item in the shade of pink.

Whether it’s a mother, aunt, neighbor, friend, nephew (yes, men get breast cancer, too), co-worker, child, or teacher, chances are there are far fewer than six degrees of separation between every living American and breast cancer.

More than 230,000 Americans will learn they have breast cancer this year alone. More than 39,000 people will die from it. Literally millions (an estimated 2.6 million) of women are alive today who either have or had breast cancer. Even for those who have successfully battled this disease and are now living cancer-free (and the number doing so is increasing every day), the fear and the reality of it never really go away.

The numbers, like the disease itself, can seem overwhelming.

That’s one of the reasons why more than 25 years ago, October was designated as National Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

Raise awareness for early detection. Raise money for breast cancer research, for expenses of those in dire need of medical care and treatment that their health insurance does not provide. Raise awareness for mammograms. Appeal to insurance companies to pay for those early detection practices, however extreme they need to be.

When coupled with new treatment options, mammography screenings and early detection can significantly improve a woman’s chances of survival.

But mammography screenings are effective only if women have them. Women must take control of their own breast health — educate themselves, do self-exams, and schedule regular mammograms. In fact, pick up the phone and schedule one today.

The wonderful thing about Breast Cancer Awareness Month is that it has spurred hundreds of thousands of people to action.

Show your support this month for the millions of women — and men, too — who have been touched by breast cancer.

Show it beyond wearing pink. Show it in your actions, your donations, your support, your time, your prayers, if you so believe — and in your heart.