Breast cancer hits home

By Alex Pittinsky
October 1, 2009

Shannon Keough

October is Breast Cancer awareness month and a month that all young women and adults alike should pay close attention to.

Breast cancer is known as an uncontrolled growth of breast cells, which leads to a benign or severe tumor within the breast tissue.

A common myth about breast cancer is that men do not get it, when in fact roughly 440 men have died this year alone in the United States from the disease.

About 90 percent of breast cancers are not due to heredity, but to genetic abnormalities that happen as a result of the aging process and life in general.

When I was very young, around the age of six, I had a neighbor who was diagnosed with breast cancer. At the time I did not know much about the disease, but my mom would tell me bits and pieces after having comforted my neighbor.

Although my neighbor caught the disease in the early stages, she did not want to take any risks. As soon as she could, she scheduled a double mastectomy. For those of you who do not know what a double mastectomy is, it is when a woman has both of her breasts removed.

Now, looking back, I can imagine how hard it must have been to go through a double mastectomy, after all, that is one of the distinguishing, physical traits of women. I can only think how brave my neighbor must have been and also how confident she must have been with herself to be able to go through something that life changing.

Most of us are young adults, I believe it is extremely important for us women to make sure that we know how to protect ourselves. Here, on Cabrini’s campus, most of the residence buildings have signs in the shower that give the step-by-step directions of how to do a self-breast examination. I know that a few years ago this topic would be something I would laugh about or turn my cheek to, but I do not believe this is something to be taken lightly.

Besides skin cancer, breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer among women in the U.S. and approximately 192,370 new cases in the United States alone were discovered in 2009.

In today’s world, there are many people getting involved to aid funding toward finding a universal cure for breast cancer, even though there are many treatment options.

People getting involved include a vast range of celebrities. The celebrities that come to mind are ones that were brought up in my daily life while perusing on my favorite online shopping W eb site. Denise Richards, Sophia Bush, Nicky Hilton, Cindy Crawford and Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen (for the Elizabeth and James clothing line), are just a few of the celebrities taking action.

These celebrities have designed t-shirts and jewelry specifically to promote breast cancer awareness and the proceeds from their products go toward The Breast Cancer Network of Strength.

The Breast Cancer Network of Strength is an organization whose mission is to ensure, through education and advocacy, that no one faces breast cancer alone.

My advice to you, do not let this month pass without trying to reach out and help at least one person: If that merely means spreading awareness, that will be more than enough.

I believe this is a very important and heartbreaking disease. To those with relatives who have had breast cancer please remember: a woman’s risk of breast cancer approximately doubles if she has a first-degree relative (mother, sister or daughter) who has been diagnosed with breast cancer and about 20 to 30 percent of women diagnosed with breast cancer have a family history of the disease.

So ladies, protect yourselves and don’t be embarrassed to do the monthly checks, it will benefit you and surely ease your mind.

Alex Pittinsky

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