Surviving Breast Cancer: A Grave Challenge for American Women
Breast cancer remains a formidable threat to women in America, demanding our unwavering attention and action. In this blog post, we look into the heartbreaking statistics surrounding breast cancer, exploring its devastating impact on American women and the efforts taken to raise awareness. Join us as we discuss the alarming number of affected women, the staggering mortality rates, and the remarkable history of Breast Cancer Awareness Week.
The severity of breast cancer as a health concern in America
Breast cancer poses a significant threat to women in America, impacting their lives both physically and mentally. The CDC reports that each year in the United States, about 240,000 cases of breast cancer are diagnosed in women and about 2,100 in men. About 42,000 women and 500 men in the U.S. die each year from breast cancer. It is estimated that one in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer during their lifetime (American Cancer Society, 2021). From the same study, we learn that breast cancer is the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths among women in the United States.
With its alarming prevalence, the disease demands urgent attention. To grasp the gravity of the situation, consider the following reasons why breast cancer is a terrible scourge for American women.
Breast cancer inflicts unimaginable suffering on individuals, families, and communities throughout America. When examining the devastating consequences, several key factors emerge, highlighting the urgent need for comprehensive action:
- Alarming Incidence: A staggering number of American women are diagnosed with breast cancer each year, leaving an indelible mark on their lives. Understanding the scope of this illness mandates proactive measures to improve detection, treatment, and prevention.
- Fatal Outcomes: The mortality rate associated with breast cancer is a harrowing testament to its destructive potential. Each year, a significant number of women succumb to this disease, leaving a void in families and leaving us with an unwavering resolve to combat it. Its ability to spread silently, coupled with late-stage diagnoses, contributes to reduced survival rates
- Emotional Toll: Beyond physical suffering, breast cancer exacts a heavy psychological toll on patients, causing anxiety, depression, and a host of emotional challenges.
- Familial Impact: Breast cancer reverberates through families, affecting not only patients but also their loved ones who witness and support them through their journey.
- Economic Burden: The financial strain of breast cancer treatment and management can be overwhelming, leading to increased healthcare costs and potential long-term financial repercussions.
- Long-term Effects: The impact of breast cancer doesn’t end with survival or remission. Many survivors experience long-term physical and emotional effects, including lymphedema, fertility problems
- Health Disparities: Certain communities, such as minority and low-income populations, face disproportionately higher breast cancer incidence and mortality rates, further exacerbating the burden. Black women have a higher rate of death from breast cancer than all other women.
Breast Cancer Awareness Month:
In an attempt to unite communities and mobilize resources, Breast Cancer Awareness Week has become a pivotal annual event. The event started as National Breast Cancer Awareness Month (NBCAM) in October of 1985. This was a partnership between the American Cancer Society and the pharmaceutical division of Imperial Chemical Industries to promote mammograms as the most effective tool to fight breast cancer. With the help of former First Lady and breast cancer survivor, Betty Ford, the week-long breast cancer awareness initiative kicked off. Betty Ford was diagnosed with breast cancer while her husband, Gerald Ford, was President of the United States. Because of this, Betty was able to bring more attention to the disease. Fast forward seven years to 1992, when the pink ribbon was first introduced as part of the campaign.
The origins of the pink ribbon date back even further than Breast Cancer Awareness Month itself. The first inspiration occurred in 1979 when a wife of a hostage who had been taken in Iran tied yellow ribbons around the trees in her front yard. She did this as a symbol of her desire to see her husband return home safely. The next was years later when AIDS activists were inspired by yellow ribbons for soldiers fighting in the Gulf War. The activists changed the color to bright red and looped it. It was then on display at the Tony Awards to represent those impacted by AIDS. After that, ribbons became synonymous with charities. So much so that the New York Times declared 1992 The Year of the Ribbon.