Raising awareness

FI-EditorialOctober is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, but for those living with the terrible realities of this disease, it’s a year-round concern.

Of course, that doesn’t mean that focusing a month on the fight against breast cancer is a bad thing. Far from it. In fact, it’s encouraged for Greenwich and every other place in the world to “think pink” in October. Raising awareness and, most importantly, raising funds will be how this disease gets beaten once and for all. But it’s also important to remember that this disease is out there all 12 months a year.

Many inspiring stories of triumph over the disease will be told. Stories of brave women who fought the cancer and beat it, sometimes with the help of their families and loved ones and sometimes facing it alone. But the reality is that not every story has a happy ending, and that’s why fighting breast cancer is as important as ever. Chances are this disease has touched someone close to you, and for far too many the story of struggle is a personal one.

The statistics remain jarring. According to the American Cancer Society’s breast cancer facts and figures, in 2013 an estimated 232,340 new cases of invasive breast cancer were expected to be diagnosed among women in the United States alone, and that’s in addition to an estimated 64,640 additional cases of in situ breast cancer, which is the most common type of non-invasive breast cancer. Add to that the estimation that approximately 39,620 women were expected to die from breast cancer in 2013 and you have the grim reality of what women are facing.

Only lung cancer accounts for more cancer deaths in women than breast cancer. That’s why people are making such a big deal about this month. So for everyone rolling their eyes over pink in the NFL (which obviously could stand some good PR these days and to look like it actually might care about the well-being of women for a change) or even in the WWE, know that awareness is extremely important. That’s why there are pink ribbons on Greenwich Avenue and why this town is so fortunate to have a group like the Breast Cancer Alliance.

Unlike some other national groups that seem far more interested in branding and marketing than actually doing any good with the gobs of money they get every year, the Breast Cancer Alliance is a local source that can actually show the benefit of what its donors do. Since its inception in 1997, the BCA has awarded more than $19 million in grants to high-impact breast cancer research, fellowships and early detection initiatives. That’s where the money needs to go and why people need to support the BCA and groups like it.

Only through research and the efforts of top scientists can breast cancer finally be defeated. Progress has been made, but the statistics show so much more needs to be done. The BCA has events planned to raise awareness, from this morning’s flag raising to the all-day Go for Pink shopping event, where you can see 10% of your purchases go to the BCA as long as you mention Go for Pink at participating stores today, Oct. 2. But the BCA does not shut down when the calendar turns.

Greenwich organizations are good at keeping the fight going 12 months a year, and there’s much more information available at Breastcanceralliance.org. Awareness and donations will keep this fight going. There are plenty of chances for people to help, not just in October but at any time.

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