The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus


Awareness beyond October

The month of October can be a fairly busy time on campus. Students are looking ahead to their futures – whether that’s catching up in classes, deciding where to study abroad or filling out job applications that will hopefully lead to a bright career.

̢۬ But, October is also a month for reflection and hope. It is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, the time of the year where the color du jour is pink, and millions of supporters participate in cancer awareness events. In its 21st year, Breast Cancer Awareness Month is dedicated to increasing awareness of breast cancer issues.

As journalists, we are taught to not bring our personal convictions into our professional duties. But, my story could eventually be your story, so I feel compelled to discuss it.

Every three minutes, a woman finds out she has breast cancer. Every 13 minutes, another woman dies from the disease. According to the American Cancer Society, the lifetime probability risk of developing breast cancer is one in seven. Approximately 275,000 women will die from cancer in 2005. Of that number, 15 percent, or 41,250 women, will die from breast cancer. It’s imperative to become well-informed about the disease and its preventative measures. Breast cancer has affected the lives of many students whose family members and loved ones have suffered or are suffering from this disease.

Breast cancer is a term I was not too familiar with until it affected my family. Almost four years ago this January, my mother was diagnosed with this horrible disease. Now, the month of October means more to me than Halloween or three months to Christmas. This month, I celebrate the life of my mom.

She survived the first diagnosis, major surgeries, chemotherapy and radiation, only to be faced with a reoccurrence less than a year later. In most cases, 40 percent of breast cancer patients will have a reoccurrence. And, during both times, I believe a mammogram saved my mother’s life.

When it comes to breast cancer, early detection is key to discovering small tumors that doctors cannot find in a routine breast examination.

Christine Lacy, an employee at University of Texas at Arlington, saw two sides of the fight against breast cancer. When she was a teenager, her mother was diagnosed with the disease, but she never imagined what was to come. “I knew that one day when I got into my 40s, 50s or 60s I would likely be facing the disease as well. I never imagined it would be at the age of 28,” she said.

Lacy is now in the midst of undergoing surgery and treatment, but she had these words for young women. “I believe all women should begin performing annual breast self-exams at least by age 18, because you never know. Until a cure is found, early detection is truly the answer to survivability. If you suspect or find a lump, don’t merely ask for a mammogram and sonogram, but demand it,” she said.

Now, ladies, and men (1,690 men will be diagnosed with breast cancer in 2005), I know you might be thinking that you have youth on your side and do not need to worry. But, my plea to you is this. Hopefully, this disease will never personally touch your lives, but if it has or will – always live on the safe side.

Breast cancer can happen to anyone, young or old, healthy or ill, active or inactive. Encourage your mothers, grandmothers and relatives to get checked regularly. And, get checked yourself. As breast cancer continues without a cure, more women under the age of 40 are facing this disease frequently. Out of a million young women under the age of 40, 250,000 will be diagnosed with breast cancer.

Paula Zahn, news anchor for CNN, said it best in a tribute to her mother: “Cancer was the kind of word you whispered and prayed didn’t strike your family.”

Until a cure is found, I will be running the race and raising the money for research, but, more importantly, spreading the word to encourage women of all ages to get checked regularly.

Renie Malchow is a senior journalism major. She may be contacted at [email protected].

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