October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, a worldwide annual campaign involving thousands of organizations, to highlight the importance of breast awareness, education and research. Established in 1985 by the American Cancer Society, the goal of Breast Cancer Awareness Month is to fill the void in terms of education, early detection and to empower women to take charge of their breast health. The American Cancer Society projects that, by the end of this year, there will be over a quarter million new cases of invasive breast cancer and over 60,000 new cases of non-invasive breast cancer diagnosed in the United States which will cost over 50,000 lives lost among women and yes, also men. The statistics are sobering. Women have a 1 in 8 chance and men have a 1 in 1,000 lifetime risk of developing breast cancer.
Incidence of breast cancer in the United States has decreased since the year 2000 and death rates have also decreased. This is thought to be the result of increased awareness, earlier detection thorough screening and advancements in treatment. The American Cancer Society breast cancer screening guidelines are developed to save lives by finding breast cancer early, when treatment is more likely to be successful. The Society regularly reviews the science and updates screening recommendations when new evidence suggests that a change may be needed. The latest guideline applies to women at average risk for breast cancer. Among other recommendations, it says all women should begin having yearly mammograms by age 45, and can change to having mammograms every other year beginning at age 55. Women should have the choice to start screening with yearly mammograms as early as age 40, if they want to.
While there is no sure way to prevent breast cancer, the ACS suggests that there are things you can do that might lower your risk, such as changing risk factors that are under your control. Drinking alcohol, carrying excess body weight (particularly after menopause), a sedentary lifestyle, breast implants, some hormone-based birth control methods and hormone replacement therapy have all been shown to increase the risk for developing breast cancer. Mitigating or managing these lifestyle factors can help to reduce risk.
The widespread nature of the disease combined with the importance of early detection and treatment has led to a concerted increase in efforts to raise awareness over the last several decades. Over that time, the pink ribbon has become the ubiquitous symbol of breast cancer awareness. In 1990, following the Komen National Race for the Cure in Washington, D.C., the survivor program developed, and pink was used as the designated color for Komen to promote awareness and its programs. Pink visors were launched for survivor recognition. In 1991, pink ribbons were distributed to all breast cancer survivors and participants of the Komen New York City Race for the Cure. Then in 1992, Alexandra Penney, editor-in-chief of Self magazine, wanted to put the magazine’s second annual Breast Cancer Awareness Month issue over the top. She did this by creating a ribbon and enlisting the cosmetics giants to distribute them in New York City stores. And thus, the birth of the pink ribbon!
For 2018, Breast Cancer Awareness Month in Cenla kicked off with the 16th Annual Threads Fashion Show at the Coughlin-Saunders Performing Arts Center in Alexandria. The annual Threads Fashion Show, as always, was headlined by Cenla’s own breast cancer survivors, modeling beautiful looks and celebrating survival. Sponsored by the CHRISTUS Cabrini Cancer Center, proceeds benefit the center’s Patient Assistance Fund.
Since 2010, each October Cenla residents have laced up their running shoes, donned their finest pink attire and taken to the streets racing to benefit breast cancer research. Through 2017, the main event has been the Susan G. Komen Acadiana Race for the Cure Cenla in Downtown Alexandria, which included Survivor Celebration, Team Tailgate, Kids Korner, and much more. This year, the race event is changing. The new Geaux Pink 5K race event promises to be the “Breast Race in Cenla”!
All cancer survivors, families and friends are invited to grab your best pink dress and mark your calendar for October 13th for Cenla’s breast cancer awareness event of the season! “We are beyond excited to host a Pink Dress Run at Walker Toyota this year,” said Ashley Walker, Executive Director of Cabrini’s Foundation. “An event of this magnitude will not only continue to celebrate the hard fought battle of so many survivors that was initiated by the previous Race for the Cure event, but one hundred percent of the funds raised stay right here in Central Louisiana and benefit our friends and neighbors.”
Cabrini is asking businesses and neighborhoods to paint-the-town pink as the day of the race—October 13th—approaches. Many sponsors have already signed on in full support of the cause like Title Sponsor, Walker Toyota, who has not only helped to fund the event but is hosting all race festivities, allowing a community-wide tailgating party to take over its dealership for the evening. “We will have Louisiana-based food vendors: Cajunlicious, Down South Cookin, Jacks, A La Mode Creamery Legal Grounds and Uncle Willie’s,” said Walker. “Plus, there will be all kinds of entertainment including music, vendors, and activities for the kids created by The Tree House.” The celebration wouldn’t be complete without a post-race tailgating party with a large outdoor TV featuring the LSU vs. Georgia game.
In addition to Walker Toyota, UTLX Manufacturing, LLC, Aggressive Health Solutions, All Saints Hospice, Run Wild, KALB, Q93-Cenla Broadcasting, Super One Foods, Taboo Harley, Pepsico, Roy O. Martin, CLECO and Petron, LLC have all signed up to support the event. The race route will start at Walker Toyota and host both a 1-mile and 3.5-mile route on Versailles with water stations provided by many businesses along the Versailles route. “I can’t say enough about the wonderful sponsors who are generously supporting this year’s event. It’s going to be an exciting celebration with a ‘Best Pink Dress Award’ as well as a raffle for a custom pink Toyota Forerunner generously provided by Walker Toyota.”
The funds raised will support local treatment capabilities, rehabilitation, support groups, education, local clinical trials and community outreach at CHRISTUS Cabrini’s Cancer Center. “We hope the community will come out in support of local breast cancer fighters and survivors” said Walker.
All race-day booths, vendors and festivities begin at 4:30pm and the race kicks off at 6:00pm. In addition, all breast cancer survivors are invited to the exclusive Survivor Happy Hour provided by The Antoon Hospitality Group beginning at 4:30pm. The cost is $30.00 per person, with a survivor discount of $15.00. To register, buy a raffle ticket for the Geaux Pink Forerunner or volunteer, please visit https://www.christuscabrinifoundation.org/geaux-pink-5k/
The U.S. Postal Service (USPS) offers an opportunity for postal customers to help fund the cause of Breast Cancer Research by purchasing the Breast Cancer Research Stamp.
These 65-cent self-adhesive semi-postal stamps are available year-round in sheets of 20 to help raise funds for breast cancer research. Each stamp is equal to the First-Class Mail 1-ounce postage rate in effect at the time of purchase. The stamps are available at Post Offices nationwide, online at usps.com, by mail order through USA Philatelic catalog, or by calling (800) STAMP-24.
The amount the Postal Service contributes to breast cancer research is determined by the difference between the 65-cent purchase price and the First-Class Mail rate in effect at the time of purchase, minus any costs incurred by USPS. The distribution of the Postal Service contribution is specified by law, with 70 percent given to the National Institutes of Health and 30 percent given to the Medical Research Program at the Department of Defense. More than 1 billion stamps have been sold since its inception in 1998, raising more than $87.8 million for breast cancer research.
The Breast Cancer Research Stamp was the first semi-postal stamp in U.S. history. In 1997, Congress authorized it for the specific purpose of raising funds from the American public to assist in finding a cure for breast cancer. In 2015, President Obama signed legislation that extended the sale of the stamp through December 31, 2019. Designed by Ethel Kessler of Bethesda, MD, the stamp features the phrases, “Fund the Fight” and “Find a Cure” and an illustration of a mythical “goddess of the hunt” by Whitney Sherman of Baltimore.
In addition to the Breast Cancer Research stamp, the Postal Service offers two other fundraising stamps. The Save Vanishing Species semi-postal stamp has raised more than $5.2 million to help protect threatened and vanishing species and the Alzheimer’s semi-postal stamp has raised more than $524,000 to fund Alzheimer’s research. All three stamps help raise money for causes in the national public interest and are available for purchase year-round. The Postal Service is promoting each of these stamps through the remainder of the year—starting with the Breast Cancer Research stamp in October.
In addition to participating in the various official events and opportunities throughout Cenla, your business or organization can promote Breast Cancer Awareness throughout the month. Some fun ideas include hosting a special casual jean day for a small donation to the breast cancer charity of your choice, joining the Central Louisiana Technical Community College for their “Pink Out” day on Friday, October 19th by wearing pink for the day, or bathing your building in pink with special exterior lighting. Don’t be afraid to think outside the box, to think about making a difference, and be sure to “Think Pink!”