Breast Cancer Awareness Month: Be part of a community of supporters

The pink ribbons – the visual reminder of Breast Cancer Awareness Month – will be out again this October as the world observes BCAM through various campaigns to encourage the early detection of the disease.
“Education saves lives! From understanding the importance of early detection to knowing how to prepare for a mammogram, being well informed is the key…” is one of the key points in this month’s “RISE (Rally In Sharing Everywhere) campaign of the National Breast Cancer Foundation in the U.S. “When breast cancer is detected early, in the localized stage, the five-year relative survival rate is 99 percent,” RISE campaign said.

The visual reminder of the BCAM started in 1992 when the first nationwide campaign in the United States was held and 1.5 million pink ribbons were distributed to support the movement. Today, one of the biggest supporters of BCAM are the players, coaches, and referees of the NFL who wear the pink ribbon every October, according to “A Brief History of Breast Cancer Month.”

In the Philippines, the visual reminder of the campaign is expanded to turning social media profiles pink, and wearing something pink every day. It is a reminder that can save lives.

The aim of the global initiative is simple: To educate women about breast cancer and early detection tests which increase survival from the disease. The campaign promotes mammograms, an important tool in the fight against breast cancer.

The observance of BCAM in the Philippines is led by the Department of Health and supported by the private sector, primarily the non-government organizations that have been involved in breast cancer early detection and treatment initiatives. Many private companies have also silently been supporting the campaign with free mammogram tests and treatment packages that have led to increasing the number of survivors of breast cancer.

In the Philippines, the Philippine Foundation for Breast Care, Inc. (Kasuso), has worked with breast cancer initiatives since 2000 when the breast care center in the Philippines was established at the East Avenue Medical Center. Today, the website describes PFBCI as a community-based, hospital-integrated, voluntary, non-stock, non-profit organization composed of volunteers from non-medical and non-health backgrounds.

“Since 2004, PFBCI has evolved from a simple patient support group to an organization that pioneered a patient navigation model tailor-fit for the Philippine setting.”

Breast Cancer is the most common cancer among women in the Philippines. According to the Philippine Statistics of Authority and the Department of Health, it shows that three in every 100 Filipino women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime, PFBCI said.

Here are some more facts about breast cancer from the PFBCI:

“• While females have a significantly higher risk (100 times more), males are not exempted from having it. One in 1,000 males gets breast cancer in their lifetime. (Philippine Cancer Society)

• Mammograms are effective in detecting even early-stage breast cancers and this is why. it is important to do so every year, especially after 40. But it could also give a false-negative result from time to time, depending on the breast tissue. Hence, why a monthly self- examination is still as important.”

The month of October is also for celebrating the survivors of breast cancer and forums are held to hear their stories to inspire others on the journey to healing.

There are many ways to support Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Convince a friend to have a mammogram, send a letter of encouragement to a breast cancer survivor, join the community of supporters, a powerful force for healing and recovery.