Designated as National Breast Cancer Awareness Month in 1985, the month of October serves as an annual reminder to keep the conversation going when it comes to research, prevention and treatment of one of the most common cancers in women. Even more important than continuing the conversation is finding a way to personally get involved in the efforts to end breast cancer.

Being knowledgeable about the statistics associated with breast cancer is one way to join in the efforts to fight this disease. Sadly, about one in eight women in the United States will develop invasive breast cancer during their lifetime.  However, female breast cancer incidence rates have decreased since 2000. This is encouraging news, and evidence that the efforts to raise awareness and promote regular examinations truly are making a difference. 

Equally as important as being knowledgeable about the statistics surrounding this disease is being aware of your personal family medical history.  I encourage everyone to take a look at their family history and have conversations with their family members about this disease. I would especially encourage everyone to speak with their loved ones who have directly encountered this disease and triumphed, or are currently in the throes of treatment. Hearing their stories and reaching out to them during this time can make a difference in both their lives and your own.

Finally, raising funds for educational research is a key component to learning more about this disease and how to fight back. There are a number of ways to donate to breast cancer research and treatment organizations.  The American Cancer Society can provide further details on how you can be involved in in the fight against breast cancer through financial donations and volunteer opportunities.

Though our individual encounters with this disease are varied, it is the common thread of human compassion that binds us together as we continue to fight back. Community support is an invaluable resource in the battle against breast cancer, and personal involvement acts as a catalyst that propels us closer and closer to the goal of eradicating this disease completely.

Breast cancer is a disease that affects many families in some way or another, including my own. There are many ways to respond when a friend or loved one is diagnosed with breast cancer. The best way to respond is by committing to stand by your loved ones and support them in this fight.  Allow the month of October to serve as an opportunity to find out how you can personally get involved in the fight against breast cancer. 

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