Oct 10 2017
By U.S. Senator Deb Fischer
**Audio for this week’s column is unavailable**
Pink is powerful, and this time of year we see a lot of it. On t-shirts, lapel pins, inside football stadiums, and throughout our neighborhoods, this October, bright bursts of pink will catch our eye. The vibrant pops of color signal an important and meaningful cause: raising breast cancer awareness.
Mothers, daughters, and grandmothers know all too well the anxiety associated with a yearly mammogram. We head to the doctor on edge. Statistics say one in eight women will develop breast cancer during the course of her lifetime. We worry, will I be the one?
Many times the tests come back negative and with the report comes relief and peace of mind. We move on with our busy lives and focus once again on our daily responsibilities: picking up groceries, driving the carpool to soccer practice, commuting to the office. Sadly, for too many Americans, that’s not how the scenario plays out. The results come back positive. A woman receives a breast cancer diagnosis and her life changes forever.
The American Cancer Society estimates 252,710 women in the U.S. will be diagnosed with invasive breast cancer this year. In 2017, another 63,410 cases of “in situ” lesions, an early stage tumor confined to the site where it started, will also be diagnosed in women. These numbers are frightening and the big picture isn’t any more comforting. Breast cancer is the type of cancer diagnosed in women most often. It’s also the second-leading cause of death by cancer in women.
Every October, our nation unites in the effort to draw attention to this tragic disease. On the evening of October 1st, the front of the White House was aglow in pink showing support for National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Closer to home, the Ralston Police Department joined the Pink Patch Project. Officers are selling pink police patches with the department’s information on them. The proceeds they collect will go to an organization working on a cure for breast cancer.
The campaign to beat this tragic disease is working and that gives us hope. According to a new American Cancer Society report, the breast cancer death rate for females declined by 38 percent from 1989 to 2014. This positive trend is happening because doctors are catching the disease earlier and using better, more advanced treatments.
To continue this progress, we have to make sure breast cancer patients are educated about the treatments out there. That’s why I was proud to have cosponsored the Breast Cancer Patient Education Act in the Senate. The goal of this bill is to help provide patients facing invasive reconstructive surgeries with more information about coverage and treatment options.
While there are shreds of optimism on this difficult journey, we must also acknowledge there are still far too many fighting this vicious disease day in and day out. Those who take on this battle do it with grit and grace. Their positivity and strength renew our own determination to raise awareness and push for an ultimate cure.
In solidarity with breast cancer survivors, those fighting this deadly disease today, and those who will face it in the future, paint the town pink this month.
Thank you for participating in the democratic process. I look forward to visiting with you again next week.
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