Thursday, 17 October 2013 00:00
The latest statistics tell us that one in eight women in the United States will development breast cancer at some point in her life. Breast cancer is the second highest cause of cancer death among women during the last 25 years. Estimates indicate that 232,340 new cases of breast cancer will be recorded in New York State alone this year; 14,950 of those women will lose their lives as a result of the disease.
While the statistics are daunting, they don’t tell the whole story. On a personal level, we all probably know someone whose life has been touched by a diagnosis of breast cancer; whether it is oneself, a family member or friend. With a disease that knows no barriers, women everywhere are potential victims, regardless of their age, race or past history. This is especially meaningful to me because my mother had breast cancer.
But each year, during National Breast Cancer Awareness Month (NBCAM), we have the opportunity for a dialogue on awareness and education. We get a chance to recommit ourselves to promoting prevention and early detection as ways to protect against the deadly effects of the disease. Caught early, at a localized stage, there is a 98 percent survival rate.
Women are encouraged to perform monthly self-exams, get annual mammograms, and have clinical exams from their doctor. Participating in a healthy lifestyle that includes eating a well-rounded diet, limiting alcohol and tobacco use and regular exercise can help decrease the risks associated with breast cancer as well.
Recently, the Assembly won a victory in the fight against breast cancer with legislation that I supported that will provide funding to map breast cancer incidences throughout New York State. The Breast Cancer Research and Education Fund will promote a greater understanding of the geographic variations in breast cancer incidence and provide women with knowledge of locations within communities where breast cancer is occurring.
All of these measures are steps toward finding ways to reduce the statistics as well as the victims claimed by this disease. The collaborating organizations within NBCAM are working to empower women through awareness and education. While strides have been made there is still much more to do.
National Breast Cancer Awareness Month calls for rededicating ourselves as a community to a cause that requires our attention every day of the year; not just in the month of October.
- Charles Lavine
NY State Assembly District 13