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.”

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, 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.

The goal was, and still is, to educate women about early breast cancer detection, diagnosis and treatment.

Women who face breast cancer can suffer not only physically, but emotionally and psychologically. Fighting for one’s life is debilitating. How can you help?

Raise awareness for early detection. Raise money for breast cancer research, for expenses 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.

Show your support for the millions of women — and men, too — who have been touched by breast cancer. And while your actions may start in October, keep breast cancer victims in your thoughts throughout the year. Show your support in your actions, compassion, your time, your prayers, if you so believe — and in your heart.