Letter to the Editor in the Tomahawk Leader:
If you didn’t already know it, which could only happen if you live in a cave, October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. I am a two-time breast cancer survivor so you’d think I’d love this month, right? Wrong. I’m tired of the onslaught of pink everywhere. I want to see lung cancer, which kills more women than breast cancer, get equal awareness along with research dollars and efforts. My mother died of small cell lung cancer in 2000. The mortality rate hasn't changed in the 12 years since then. More lung cancer is being seen in non-smoking women. We need research to find out why so that steps can be taken to reduce the risk. That won’t happen without dollars.
I want breast cancer awareness ads to let men know they too can get breast cancer. One percent of breast cancer occurs in men. They tend to develop the genetic types of breast cancer which tend to be more aggressive to begin with. Men are diagnosed later than women, in part because they don’t know that men can get breast cancer. Doctors are more likely to wait and watch with a male presenting with a lump. Men have to fight with their health insurance companies to get mammograms. Put all these factors together and maybe you can understand why men with breast cancer have a significantly higher death rate than women with breast cancer.
I want to see more awareness and dollars for heart disease, which kills far more women than breast cancer does. It’s the number one cause of death for women. We are seeing more awareness about heart disease but more needs to be done. I don’t want breast cancer awareness to stop. I don’t want research to stop. Breast cancer mortality has been reduced significantly from what it was 25 years ago. One reason is more women do seek medical attention sooner. Another reason is the advent of estrogen blocking drugs. But let’s give other cancers and diseases the same awareness and dollars.