Each year during October, our nation collectively honors, celebrates, and reflects on Breast Cancer Awareness Month. This annual campaign was created in 1985 to increase attention for the disease and to raise funds for research on its prevention, cause, treatment, and ultimately, cure. It continues to be an important month for acknowledging breast cancer and how it affects so many.

Although October is drawing to a close, it is important that we continue our awareness all year long.  We should strive to help and support those battling this disease day-in and day-out as well as remember those who have lost their fight.  Tragically, my sister was diagnosed with breast cancer more than 20 years ago and sadly passed away at only 30 years of age.  My family had a difficult time saying goodbye to a loved one and that is why not a day goes by when we don’t reflect on her life and how much she is missed.

The statistics and facts behind breast cancer are unsettling. Currently, breast cancer is the second leading cause of death among women, with one in eight women being diagnosed in their lifetime, according to the National Breast Cancer Foundation. Each year, it is approximated that more than 220,000 American women will receive a confirming diagnosis of the cancer, and more than 40,000 of these women will sadly lose their battle with the disease.

This month is a time to remember how imperative it is that we are doing everything we can to protect our mothers, daughters, sisters, and friends suffering from this disease. Although still listed by the World Health Organization as the most common female cancer worldwide, recent breast cancer trends have become more promising.

Death rates from breast cancer have been declining since around 1990, and in recent years, studies have also shown a gradual reduction in breast cancer rates for women aged 50 and older. Medical experts and researchers attribute these results to improved early screening and detection, continuously evolving treatment options, and overall increased awareness about breast cancer.

Performing monthly self-exams is a critical way to identify breast cancer in its early stages, and individuals should always immediately alert healthcare professionals if anything seems unusual. While the progress that Breast Cancer Awareness Month has made throughout the years is significantly praiseworthy, we must continue to spread knowledge, fund research, and explore treatment options to eventually eliminate this horrible disease across the entire globe.

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