Just about everyone is aware that October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month … and with good reason. The statistics with cancer, as we know, are not always good. One in eight women born today will get breast cancer. The good news is, if found early, most women can survive this disease. Locally, Frisco has partnered with the American Cancer Society since 2004, and more men are getting involved to help raise funds to fight this often-deadly disease.
Jillian Phillips, the community development manager for the American Cancer Society shares, “October was designated as National Breast Cancer Awareness Month in 1985 as a partnership between the American Cancer Society and the pharmaceutical division of Imperial Chemical Industries. This allowed for women to become educated and empowered when it came to their breast health.”
The American Cancer Society has released estimates for breast cancer in the U.S. for 2019. About 268,600 new cases of invasive breast cancer will be diagnosed in women. About 62,930 new cases of carcinoma in situ (CIS) will be diagnosed (CIS is non-invasive and is the earliest form of breast cancer). About 41,760 women will die from breast cancer. Breast cancer is the most common cancer in American women, except for skin cancers. Currently, the average risk of a woman in the U.S. developing breast cancer sometime in her life is about 12 percent. This means there is a one in eight chance she will develop breast cancer. At this time, there are more than 3.1 million breast cancer survivors in the U.S., including women still being treated and those who have completed treatment.
An annual exam with your primary care physician is optimal for early detection of cancer or any other disease. However, with healthcare a concern for many and at the heart of a national debate, there are best practices that both women and men can implement into their personal lives monthly to increase early detection of, and there-by leading to the prevention of breast cancer. Medical advice suggests getting to and staying at a healthy weight (both increased body weight and weight gain as an adult are linked with a higher risk of breast cancer after menopause), being physically active (adults need at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity or 75 minutes of vigorous intensity activity each week) and limiting or avoiding alcohol. Also, women who choose to breastfeed for at least several months may also get an added benefit of reducing their breast cancer risk.
While taking responsibility for your personal health is important, sometimes, even the healthiest and best lived lifestyles cannot over-ride family genetics. Thankfully, there are scientific innovations in fighting this disease, and some with local connections. Ms. Phillips says, “GammaPod is the first stereotactic body radiation therapy system optimized for treating breast cancer. By using principles of stereotactic radiotherapy to deliver higher doses in one to five treatment fractions, GammaPod can both reduce treatment time and potentially lower the toxicity of treatment. UT Southwestern is the first center in Texas (and only the second center in the world) to offer GammaPod as a treatment option.”
Ms. Phillips says, “Frisco’s involvement with the American Cancer Society and the battle against breast cancer is significant. The American Cancer Society has been partnering with the Frisco Community since 2004 through the nation’s largest fundraiser that fights cancer, known as Relay For Life. Meaning, that over the past 15 years, the Frisco community has been a home base for raising more than half a million dollars for lifesaving research. Also, within the past several years, there has been substantial money raised in Frisco through local fundraising events that funnel back into the Frisco community by providing free lodging, transportation, mentorship programs and other programs for cancer patients living in Collin County. This year will mark the second year for Real Men Wear Pink of Collin County. Last year, the men in Collin County beat their goal of $30,000 by $5,000. Although this 2019 campaign is still in its infancy, I anticipate the men will exceed the goal of $50,000, and for this campaign to continue to grow and thrive!”
The Real Men Wear Pink initiative offers the opportunity for men to take a leadership role in the fight against breast cancer. The program works alongside Making Strides Against Breast Cancer events by giving communities the opportunity to nominate local male leaders. These gentlemen spearhead fundraising for the American Cancer Society and every dollar helps save lives from breast cancer through early detection and prevention, innovative breast cancer research and patient support.
Cancer follows no calendar or schedule. It attacks on its own timetable. While Real Men Wear Pink mainly focuses on the month of October, it is an ongoing event. Ms. Phillips explains, “Once a candidate joins the campaign, they begin to fundraise and attend various events. The first event is the reveal party, where candidates come together and get to meet one another, network and be introduced to the public as part of the campaign.”
Even if you have not experienced breast cancer yourself, chances are you know someone in your network that has. Become Frisco strong. Become Collin County strong. Step up to the plate and become part of the Real Men Wear Pink campaign to support those individuals diagnosed with breast cancer and their families get through the difficult illness with dignity, support and love. Perhaps, as a result, you might help find a way to eradicate breast cancer once and for all. If you would like to become involved in the Real Men Wear Pink campaign, Frisco residents can contact Ms. Phillips at firstname.lastname@example.org to receive more information and sign up for the campaign. There is still time to nominate a candidate, donate or volunteer for the Real Men Wear Pink initiative. To donate, go to realmenwearpinkacs.org/collincotx, then select “donate.” See cancer.org for more information about this program or to learn more about all the ways the American Cancer Society is helping save local lives.