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Breast Cancer Awareness Month Brings Opportunities

Photo courtesy of Susan G. Komen/Facebook.

By JESSE LONG

October is a busy month for UT students, with Homecoming, midterms and Halloween. However, October is also Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Many students who have not suffered from breast cancer still feel impacted through family members or friends who have been diagnosed.

This past Saturday, Kayla Jacobus, sophomore Allied Health major, along with other members of her Medical Terminology class, participated in the American Cancer Society’s Making Strides to End Breast Cancer walk that took place in St. Petersburg. Jacobus’ professor, Dr. Deanna Ohms, a primary care doctor, family practitioner and part-time professor at UT, invited her classes to participate with her during the event.

“Cancer has had a huge impact on my life personally and no matter how many events I go to, that glimmer of hope, that unwavering strength I found at today’s event, never changes,” Jacobus said. “It’s always there, and that’s why I go back every year. Because as the slogan states, with my passion no one will walk alone.”

The event took place at Vinoy park. Jacobus got there around 6 a.m. to help set up and check in volunteers. Jacobus said that setup was her favorite part of the event and gave her the opportunity to talk with the other volunteers.

“There was something beautiful in the basic integrity of the event, where everyone comes together and there is just the unspoken way in which everyone stands together to fight something that is greater than any one person,” Jacobus said. “The outpouring of support from the community for this event was amazing.”

The American Cancer Society is holding another Making Strides to End Breast Cancer walk this Saturday at Amalie Arena in conjunction with Breast Cancer Awareness Month.  

Mckenna Redding, senior chemistry major, is planning on participating in the walk this saturday. Redding feels that spreading awareness to this disease is important, because it encourages people to learn more about how to protect themselves against cancer and get examined regularly.

“The walk this weekend and the walks that occur across the nation year-round are instrumental in raising money to fund research into a cure,” Redding said. “It unites a bunch of different people to encourage and help acknowledge those who have survived, strengthen those that are still fighting, and honor those who have lost their lives or the lives of a loved one to this disease.”

Breast Cancer Awareness Month was established over 30 years ago in order to educate people about the disease, early detection, and treatment. That is why National Mammography Day falls on the third Friday of October, this year being Oct. 21.

Breast cancer is the most common cancer diagnosed in women in the United States, next to skin cancer, and is the second leading cause of cancer death in women, after lung cancer. Although men can also develop breast cancer, it isn’t as common. About one percent of all breast cancer cases in the United states occur in men, according to Susan G. Komen.

Current breast cancer statistics show that a woman has about a one in eight chance of having invasive breast cancer and a one in 37 chance of dying from it. The death rate has been going down, most likely as a result of finding the cancer earlier and the development of better treatment options. Breast cancer awareness month serves as a tool to help spread this information and educate individuals about how to prevent the disease.

The American Cancer Association’s website has information on breast cancer and how to increase early detection.

The two most common risk factors associated with breast cancer are being a woman and getting older, both of which can’t be controlled. The American Cancer Association recommends that starting at age 40, women should consider starting annual breast cancer screening with mammograms. By 45, and until age 54, women should get a mammogram every year. After age 54, woman can either continue getting a mammogram every year or switch to every two years.

Even with these guidelines, there are choices that each woman has to make to try to prevent breast cancer, further showing how important it is to know about the risks.

Although age and gender are main risks, there are some lifestyle related breast cancer risk factors, two of them being consummation of alcohol and lack of exercise. Studies have show that the amount of alcohol consumed is directly related to an individual’s risk of developing breast cancer.

The American Cancer Society recommends that women have no more than one alcoholic drink a day. With exercise it is the opposite, the more exercise the lower chance an individual has of developing breast cancer. The American Cancer Society recommends that an adult gets at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week.

Those who want to get their minutes of activity in for the week, while also supporting Breast Cancer Awareness Month, can get involved in walks like Making Strides. More information regarding this Saturday’s event can be found online at http://makingstrides.acsevents.org/.

Jesse Long can be reached at jesse.long@spartans.ut.edu.

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