It’s easy to tune out Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
After all, the national effort has been around for 28 years. Surely everyone knows the warnings; surely everyone who might give money is on board by now. It’s tempting to turn your attention to any of the myriad other good causes that clamor for our support.
But consider what the awareness month has helped to accomplish.
According to the American Cancer Society, deaths from breast cancer in the U.S. have dropped 34 percent since 1990.
Of American women older than of 40, 75.4 percent say they have had a mammogram – the key to early detection – within the past two years, according to the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. In Indiana, the percentage is slightly lower: 71.3 percent.
The pink ribbon-adorned concerts, bake sales, races and corporate events that have become synonymous with the fight against breast cancer have not only helped to raise the national consciousness. The money they’ve raised has helped fund research that’s yielded better strategies for both treatment and prevention.
Locally, for instance, the Making Strides walk at Headwaters Park on Saturday involved 212 teams and 2,142 participants and raised $128,047, according to its website.
Since it began in 1998, the Vera Bradley Foundation for Breast Cancer has raised nearly $17 million to support research. Its annual Viva la Pink event is Oct. 26 at the Vera Bradley Center in Roanoke.
Those who participate in those efforts and others around the year are to be congratulated.
But know that the fight against this disease, which still accounts for almost 1 in 3 cancers diagnosed in women, is far from over.
By the end of 2013, the ACS says, an estimated 232,340 women will be diagnosed with invasive breast cancer and an estimated 39,620 women will die from breast cancer.
The keys to preventing and overcoming the disease are so crucial that they bear repeating every year.
Early detection makes treatment more likely to be successful. Women 40 and older should have a mammogram and clinical breast exam every year, and younger women should have clinical breast exams as often as every three years, according to the ACS.
Maintain a healthy weight, don’t smoke, limit alcohol intake and get regular physical activity. And donate what you can to keep this life-giving effort going.