Fall is here and as the seasons change, we will all be doing our best to stay healthy through the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and cold and flu season. We should also remember to acknowledge that October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. This is a time to remember all those living with this disease, those who have passed, and to remember to screen early for signs of breast cancer.
Throughout this month, you’ll see this observance in the media with special messages and information from health organizations and charities. It’s important, even if you think you may not be at risk, to stop and pay attention the ads and images you see on television and the internet. They serve as a reminder for things we often overlook or fail to remember. For example, did you know that annual screenings for breast cancer are recommended for both men and women? If you have not yet been screened for this disease, it’s always advisable to do so as soon as you feel conditions are safe. Remember, if breast cancer is detected early enough, it can most likely be cured with proper treatment.
In recent months, we’ve come to rely on the World Health Organization (WHO) for some of our most important statistics. Here are a few that show the importance of early screening for breast cancer:
- The WHO has indicated that during 2020, an estimated 276,480 new cases of invasive breast cancer are likely to be diagnosed in women in the U.S., along with 48,530 new cases of non-invasive (in situ) breast cancer.
- About 2,620 new cases of invasive breast cancer are expected to be diagnosed in men in 2020. A man’s lifetime risk of breast cancer is about 1 in 883.
Many of our citizens today are uninsured, and unable to get the necessary testing to help them live at their healthiest. Middlesex County is providing help to these citizens through Middlesex County Cancer Education and Early Detection Program. This group provides education and screening services for breast cancer for men and women who meet the income guidelines and have no health insurance, or whose insurance does not cover cancer screening. For more information on this program, call 732-745-3107.
Our residents can also visit the Middlesex County Office of Health Services located at 35 Kennedy Blvd., East Brunswick, for a wide array of services such as cancer screening and education. For more information, please call 732-745-310. As always, more information about both programs is available on www.middlesexcountynj.gov.
There are many charitable organizations that are working towards a cure for breast cancer and helping to fund research on its causes and treatment. For example, you may be familiar with is the Susan G. Komen Organization, which works to educate the public on the disease.
To help these organizations, many people make donations during the month of October, often to remember a loved one who lost their battle with breast cancer. If you want to donate in memory of someone special, you can use the website charitynavigator.org to find the group that’s right for you.
In addition, many of these charity organizations schedule fundraising events during the month of October, including walks or runs. This year is sure to be no exception, even if the events are virtual ones. If you are interested in participating, you can check your town’s website, or the website of whichever non-profit organization you are interested in to see when and how they are being held.
As you know one symbol for support of Breast Cancer Awareness Month is the wearing of a pink ribbon. The ribbon reminds us of the importance of regular examinations and the support for raising funds for finding a cure. The color of the ribbon represents health, vitality and empowerment of women.
Like all diseases, our help is needed in the fight against breast cancer. Whether you’re caring for a loved one, donating to charity, or helping raise funds, you are helping work towards a cure by showing that you care.
Ronald G. Rios is the director of the Middlesex County Board of Chosen Freeholders. He writes the occasional column for Newspaper Media Group.