Because we hear so much about the fight against breast cancer (much to the credit of so many hard-working services and volunteers), most of us know that October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. And since these days none of us are devoid of media, we have learned to accurately associate that symbolic pink ribbon with the battle raging against one of the most dreaded diseases imaginable.
There are a number of prominent organizations in this effort whose names we easily recognize. Among them is the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer, who we know because we’ve seen the “In It to End It” crusade ads. And we recognize the Susan G. Komen Foundation because of their compelling “Race for the Cure” drives. Such wonderful work, and such selfless dedication by a host of amazing people, but yet to those who have not been personally exposed to breast cancer, the disease to all intents and purposes, simply affects an anonymous mass of nameless women.
As effective as those proactive campaigns are, many still seem oddly desensitized by them. Unconsciously, breast cancer has become a faceless, overpowering force that can seem like it is growing into a battle that will wage on forever.
I was one of those who lost sight of the face of the individual fighting for her life; she had unintentionally faded within the very ads designed to bring public attention to her cause. The woman afflicted with breast cancer had evaporated into that effective campaign that made me simply want the pink t-shirt and really cool pink mugs every year.
But last year was different.
When a friend of mine was diagnosed with breast cancer, the disease suddenly caught my attention. Witnessing her recovery after her double mastectomy was a lesson in courage and a demonstration of how a human being can rise above paralyzing fear and overturn a death sentence. A single mom of five kids, her determination to get better was fierce and it won. Suddenly, breast cancer had a face, a family and a story.
Today there are more than two million breast cancer survivors in the U.S., and modern medicine is a big reason for that success. We now know that early detection is key. And thanks to those charities, drives and campaigns, women are becoming more proactive and learning that some habits — like exercise and a healthy diet — may effectively reduce the risk of this disease. These organizations are providing literature that informs women about treatment options and the measures that may be used to help prevent breast cancer in women at high risk. While there are still casualties, there are now more triumphant survivors than there have ever been and with continued research there will be even more.
In celebration of this ongoing conquest we at SoCalLifeMag.com salute all those who are wholly devoted to help find a cure, and we congratulate all those who have survived to tell us their wonderful stories of victory. And if you’re still in battle or know someone who is, there are scores of resources located right here in Southern California ready and willing to help. You can start by exploring this list:
Breast Cancer Angels – (Southern California only) provides financial and emotional assistance for women and their families as they are going through breast cancer treatment.
Breast Cancer Solutions – (Orange, San Diego, San Bernardino and Riverside counties only) provides breast cancer patients with direct assistance, community referrals and compassionate support.
Busted Foundation – (Southern California only) Busted Foundation is a fundraising organization that financially supports local women who are currently being treated for breast cancer.
Breast Cancer Charities of America – the “Help Now Fund” provides counseling and emergency financial services to assist women and their families.
Cancer Financial Assistance Coalition – a coalition of organizations helping cancer patients limit their financial challenges.