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Celebrate and Advocate: Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Screen shot 2013-10-10 at 2.31.33 PMAs I’m sure you already know, October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month.  The nation is awash in the color pink and adorned with pink ribbons.  Everywhere we turn we see information about breast cancer signs and symptoms, early detection, and treatment options.  This alone is reason to celebrate.  Breast cancer is no longer something that is whispered about in secrecy but rather discussed in the open with friends and strangers alike.

Even with increased awareness, breast cancer remains the leading cancer diagnosis in females proving that there is still much work to be done.  There are large advocacy organizations paving the way through research grants and education programs (organizations like Lynn SageSusan G. Komen, American Cancer Society, National Breast Cancer Coalition, National Breast Cancer Foundation, and Avon Foundation) but in recent years, we’ve seen a surge of more focused organizations.  These newer organizations are geared towards young women (with cancer or at a high risk), minorities, and more aggressive breast cancer types.  These organizations have created networks of support for populations of women who may have previously felt left out of the breast cancer conversation.

Young women can reach out to Bright Pink; a national organization focused on risk reduction and early detection of breast and ovarian cancer in young women.  African American women can connect through Sisters Network, Inc; an organization committed to increasing attention to the devastating impact that breast cancer has in the African American community. Latinas in Chicago can access ALAS-WINGS, an organization dedicated to empowering Hispanic women about breast cancer awareness. Women diagnosed with triple-negative breast cancer (tumors that are negative for all three ‘receptors’ known to fuel most breast cancers: estrogen, progesterone, and human epidermal grown factor receptor 2 (HER2)) can find support through the Triple Negative Breast Cancer Foundation.  And the Metastatic Breast Cancer Network is dedicated to raising awareness of metastatic breast cancer and giving these women greater visibility in the community-at-large.

Each organization, large or small, makes the effort to give patients and caregivers a place to find support and educational resources during the cancer journey.  Every October, we’re reminded to celebrate the progress made in the fight against breast cancer and advocate for further advances.

I invite you to visit the organizations highlighted here as well as find upcoming breast cancer awareness events in your own community.  If you happen to be in Chicago, look around the city for pink ribbons, banners, and lights for October’s Light the Way to Find a Cure, to raise awareness for the Lynn Sage Cancer Research Foundation in partnership with Northwestern Memorial Hospital and the Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center of Northwestern University.

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