Reflections on Breast Cancer Awareness Month

November 14, 2018
Kathy LaTour
Kathy LaTour

Kathy LaTour is a breast cancer survivor, author of The Breast Cancer Companion and co-founder of CURE magazine. While cancer did not take her life, she has given it willingly to educate, empower and enlighten the newly diagnosed and those who care for them.

We all survived another October and the tidal wave of pink that represents breast cancer.

We all survived another October and the tidal wave of pink that represents breast cancer. I have a pink mixer, about 40 pink pins created by different groups around the country where I have spoken, and T-shirts with pink ribbons emblazoned in rhinestones. When I rode a motorcycle to raise money for breast cancer research, I even designed a rhinestone pattern on my helmet that implemented some pink ribbon swirls.

OK, I have read all the press about how the pink ribbon is abused and used to scam the public, and I believe some of it. On the other hand, there are women who have never stood up for themselves about anything — or even gotten involved in some kind of movement. We are not far out from a time when people did not want anyone to know they had cancer, much less march or wear any kind of identifying indication. For these women, putting on a pink ribbon or in any way identifying with any of the breast cancer movements is a huge step forward.

I like October for another reason. In my estimation, we can’t over expose breast cancer. I am sure that every October there is a woman somewhere who decides to have a mammogram or have her doctor check out a lump she has found because of an ad in a magazine or on television. I am for anything that will get the word out about this disease.

What I am not for is the fraud that goes on around breast cancer, and all other cancers for that matter. There are people out there who have raised millions in the name of breast cancer research, none of which reaches its advertised purpose. Breast cancer is emotional, and those who have lost someone to the disease are easy to scam.

Before giving money or time to any group, do your due diligence. Investigate where, exactly the money will go. There are a number of websites that give the percentages of money that goes to fundraising, research and other expenses. If they have a webpage, call them up and feel free to ask questions.

So, in this month of breast cancer awareness, do something to let women know that they can get breast cancer. And if they find it early, they will probably survive it. It doesn’t only occur when there is cancer in the family.

When I taught college, I used to talk to sororities during October. These women were between 19 and 21, and it’s true that they had a very low risk of getting breast cancer at their age. But as I aged, so did they.

So, encourage those women who have not had a mammogram to get one. And don’t be afraid to talk about breast cancer, it may just save someone’s life.

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