Celebrating National Breast Cancer Awareness Month and Its History

By October 5, 2018Articles

Historically, National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, recognized during the month of October, began as a commemorative month established in 1985. It started as a partnership between the American Cancer Society and Imperial Chemical Industries; the leading manufacturer of oncology drugs at this time. NBCAM’s primary objective was to “fill the information void” regarding breast cancer. Interestingly, it was Betty Ford, breast cancer survivor, along with her daughter, Susan, who aided in organizing the first week-long televised awareness event. For many years the program encouraged routine breast self-exams (BSE) as well as annual mammograms. It was not until 1993 when President Bill Clinton proclaimed the first National Mammography Day, now observed annually on the third Friday in October as part of National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Its purpose was to serve as a reminder that the best defense for breast cancer is early detection.

Currently, the following breast cancer screening and prevention services are offered at no cost to the consumer:

  1. screening mammography at least every two years and as frequently as once a year for women ages 40- 74 with average risk for breast cancer;
  2. genetic counseling and testing for mutation of the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes in women with family members that have breast, ovarian, fallopian tube, or peritoneal cancer;
  3. preventive medication for some women with elevated risk for adverse medication effects (kff.org, 2018).

Being informed and proactive regarding the ways to make a direct impact on the lives of cancer patients is one of the most powerful ways an individual can contribute to finding a cure for this devastating disease. Stand Up To Cancer (SU2C) is a foundation based on the principles of cooperation and collaboration to offer the most effective cancer research and treatment for patients. One hundred percent of public donations received go directly to cancer research programs. Some research areas that SU2C contributes to include: Immunology, DNA damage response, epigenetics (study of how genes are turned on and off in ways that promote or inhibit the development of cancer), tumor models, imaging and informatics, pediatric cancer and interception (finding and attacking cancer at its earliest stage, when it is easiest to treat). Another excellent foundation contributing to research and treatment is the Breast Cancer Research Foundation, a nonprofit organization committed to prevention and a cure for cancer worldwide striving for advancements in biology, genetics, prevention, treatment, metastasis and survivorship (bcrf.org, 2018). BCRF was founded in 1993 by Evelyn Lauder, has raised more than half a billion dollars for lifesaving research and is the highest rated breast cancer organization in the United States. Wonderful ways in which individuals can contribute to the BCRF include: creating personal fundraisers, where a twenty-five-dollar donation can fund one half hour of research to prevent and cure breast cancer; two hundred dollars funds a half day of research; four hundred dollars funds one full day of research and two thousand dollars funds one entire week of cancer research. Individuals can participate in already established fundraisers such as walks, runs, bake sales and lemonade stands or exercise creativity in curating their own. There are annual symposiums held in New York honoring BCRF researchers for their dedication to investigate and find a cure; discussions include prevention, diagnosis, and treatment. Another way to contribute to the cure for breast cancer is to purchase products from companies that have partnered with BCRF. With every purchase from companies ranging from BRILLO steel wool, Papyrus, Everlast and Apollo Tools contribute a percentage to research.

Overall, researching the significance of BCAM, it was interesting to find out how many ways in which individuals can contribute toward making a difference in the lives of the men and women stricken with this disease. Not every contribution needs to be a grand gesture focusing on monetary contributions. Simply lending an empathetic ear, a ride to doctor’s appointments, helping clean the house or prepare a meal for the family of a person living with cancer is greatly needed and appreciated in its own right. I found this to be a fact when, during a brief interview with Ms. Hannon, an acquaintance, who was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2015. Ms. Hannon stated; “I thought I was going to lose my life and not be able to see my kids grow. I felt my control slipping away; if it weren’t for the help of my brother, sister and a few close friends, I would not have been able to keep going. They took turns taking the kids to school during the week and when they were able to, my best friend and brother came to the house to help prepare ready-made snacks and dinners for the kids and pick up and clean the house a bit. Not sure what I would have done without them. So far, I am cancer free”. It is wonderful that October is designated as BCAM and the ability to bring awareness to this disease is significant for people worldwide, however, it is also relevant to remain vigilant of one’s health and to live a life of acknowledgment and awareness to contribute to the awareness, research and the furtherment of early diagnosis and treatment. Go PINK!

About American University of Health Sciences

AUHS is a Christian based, minority-serving university, which educates students for careers in the healthcare profession. AUHS emphasizes the values of faith in God, love of humankind, and belief that all people have a right to healthcare and deserve a good quality of life based on the wellness of body, mind, and spirit. The university celebrates diversity and reaches out to groups currently underrepresented in healthcare and research. AUHS provides the undergraduate and graduate curriculum, hands-on practical training and supportive environment required to create competent and compassionate healthcare professionals.

American University of Health Sciences is accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC), 985 Atlantic Avenue, Suite 100, Alameda, CA 94501, 510.748.9001. WSCUC is a regional accrediting body recognized by the U.S Department of Education (USDOE) and the Council on Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA). wascsenior.org

American University of Health Sciences (AUHS) is a member of the Transnational Association of Christian Colleges and Schools (TRACS) [15935 Forest Road, Forest VA 24551; Telephone: (434) 525-9539; e-mail: info@tracs.org], having been awarded Accredited Status as a Category III institution by the TRACS Accreditation Commission on October 24, 2017. This status is effective for a period of up to five years. TRACS is recognized by the United States Department of Education (USDOE), the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA), and the International Network for Quality Assurance Agencies in Higher Education (INQAAHE). tracs.org