Editorial: Serious business

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.”
And while breast cancer awareness seems to have taken on the theme color of pink, understanding, preventing and supporting those with it is more than sporting a pink T-shirt or 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. The numbers, like the disease itself, can seem overwhelming.
More than 25 years ago, October was designated as National Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
The goal was, and still is, to educate women about early breast cancer detection, diagnosis and treatment. But in some cases, the goal is lost.
In addition to being reminded to focus on “pink,” we’re also seeing many different social media statuses or hashtags pop up to arguably “raise awareness.” One movement implores viewers to “save second base.”
These types of campaigns are at best flippant and at worst insensitive.
Women who face breast cancer can suffer not only physically but also emotionally and psychologically, driven by societal attitudes rampant on social media. Fighting for one’s life is debilitating enough. Facing disfiguring surgical interventions adds to this suffering. Women, and men, fighting for their lives, are more than likely not thinking about it as “second base.”
Raise awareness for early detection. Raise money for breast cancer research, raise awareness for mammograms. Appeal to insurance companies to pay for early detection. When coupled with new treatment options, mammography screenings, genetic testing and other forms of early detection can significantly improve a woman’s chances of survival.
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.
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. Beyond your cutesy social media statuses and your witty and sometimes sexualized and often insensitive themes and hashtags.
Our bodies are more than bases.
Show it in your actions, your donations, your support, your time, your prayers, if you so believe — and in your heart.