Just do it
Why wait until October? The fight against breast cancer begins now with early screening
This is not October when the fight against breast cancer and the color pink demands attention. This is June when the heat of summer is here to stay, many of us are getting ready for long awaited summer vacations, and yet each month hundreds of Houstonians and their families are faced with a diagnosis of breast cancer and what it means for their future.
Susan G. Komen for the Cure has lead the national breast cancer movement with messages of education and awareness, changed the way in which breast cancer is perceived, and has been a part of every breast cancer research breakthrough in the last 30 years. Yet, while it’s clear to me that the one in eight breast cancer statistic for women is a reality, and breast cancer in men is gaining more awareness — why are so many women delaying annual mammograms, and so many men still not even aware that they too can get breast cancer?
What can be done to stress the importance of early screening that isn’t already being done today?
As executive director of Susan G. Komen for the Cure Houston, I know that our organization spends 80 percent of its resources on breast cancer research, education, screening, and treatment programs and also stresses the importance of knowing your body and paying attention to subtle changes. Every two years, Komen Houston conducts a needs assessment with breast cancer survivors, service providers and health navigators to identify the barriers to breast health access in the Houston area.
In the last four years, Komen Houston spent over $13 million dollars on programs in Brazoria, Chambers, Galveston, Fort Bend, Harris, Montgomery and Liberty counties to bridge the gap of access. Yet some women still view breast health screening as optional and men aren’t aware of their own risks to the disease.
Although I am not a survivor, I’ve seen the breast cancer battle being fought by those on the front lines and observed the impact of the disease on families. I know women who get their annual screenings and those who choose to ignore the warnings and forego their screenings. What will it take for them to take the disease seriously enough to commit to annual screenings? What will it take for them to take charge of their health?
Each year the month of October ushers in the Houston Race for the Cure Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and a plethora of awareness campaigns to bring attention to the need to find a cure. Pink will be plastered all over the city. Sponsors, families, and friends will prepare teams to participate and loved ones will remember those they’ve lost to the disease. Everywhere you go you’ll be reminded that thousands are still dying and early detection saves lives.
Last year more than 35,000 people participated in the Houston Race to support and honor their family members and loved ones who have battled the disease.
But what will happen after October? What will you do to make sure that your loved ones are educated, take charge of their health and are screened? Will you get screened yourself or will you fail to make an appointment because you’re too afraid or busy?
While it is my hope that you will take action regarding your health, it is your choice to do so. Neither I nor your family members can do it for you. What I can do is assure you that we will continue to do our part to fund as many research, education, screening and treatment programs as possible. We will always work to make sure that those in need have access to resources and we will continue to be good stewards of the funds raised so that critical needs in the great communities in which we live can be met.
This year we hope that even more Houstonians will join us on Saturday, Oct. 1 in downtown Sam Houston Park to not only show their support for breast cancer awareness but to support taking charge of their health. With all the work being done, there is still so much more work to do.
Won’t you join us Beyond the Race in the fight to end breast cancer?
Adrianna Higgins is executive director of the Houston affiliate of Susan G. Komen For The Cure