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On the Coast Magazine

Why Breast Cancer Awareness Still Matters

09/04/2016 06:32PM ● Published by Nancy Babin

Is breast cancer awareness still an issue?  The National Breast Cancer Foundation would say it absolutely is.  It’s not that women don’t know what breast cancer is.  Most women in the U.S. know of the disease, and many are aware that one in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer.  Most also know that mammography is still considered to be the best tool for reducing breast cancer mortality rates.  So, does Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and more specifically National Mammography Day, still matter? 

National Mammography Day—the third Friday in October—was created by President Clinton in 1993 to remind women to schedule their mammograms.  In an era of only TV, radio, print media and “snail mail,” a presidential proclamation was the surest way to shine the light on the importance of getting a mammogram.  Considering today’s technology with instant information at our fingertips, is National Mammography Day now passé?  Doesn’t everyone just already know women are supposed to get a mammogram annually after age 40?  

Perhaps…but knowing and acting are not always the same.  Ask a woman how she’s doing and you’ll often hear, “Busy.”  Between work, running a household, making time for fitness, attempting to prepare healthy meals, and taking care of others, the prevailing sentiment is that there are just not enough hours in the day—particularly for moms.  It’s easy to let scheduling that annual mammogram get pushed further and further down the to-do list as we tackle more “pressing” issues like paying bills, grocery shopping, and even making and keeping appointments for others.  But as hard as it is to prioritize a mammogram, we must work together to make it happen.   The National Breast Cancer Foundation believes the earlier breast cancer is detected, the better chance a woman has of living a full life.  

So, during this Breast Cancer Awareness Month, sure you’re aware of breast cancer, but take time to educate yourself on the importance of Breast Health Awareness.  If you’re a woman over 40 and don’t have a mammogram scheduled, make the call today.  If you’ve already scheduled yours, great!  And everyone - encourage a friend/aunt/mom/coworker to schedule hers.  

This story was written by Rebecca H. Anderson, National Breast Cancer Foundation Marketing Manager, and edited for this publication.

About National Breast Cancer Foundation, Inc.®

 Recognized as one of the leading breast cancer organizations in the world, National Breast Cancer Foundation (NBCF) is Helping Women Now® by providing early detection, education and support services to those affected by breast cancer.  A recipient of Charity Navigator’s highest 4-star rating for twelve years, NBCF provides support through their National Mammography Program, Patient NavigationBeyond The Shock®, breast health education, and research programs. For more information, please visit www.nbcf.org

Here are other helpful facts about breast cancer:

 2016 Breast Cancer Stats

Sources: National Cancer Institute, American Cancer Society, Johns Hopkins Medical Center


  • On average, every 2 minutes a woman is diagnosed with breast cancer and 1 woman will die of breast cancer every 13 minutes.
  • 1 in 8 women in the United States will develop breast cancer in her lifetime. 
  • Breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in women. 
  • Breast cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death among women, exceeded only by lung cancer. 
  • Each year it is estimated that over 246,660 women in the United States will be diagnosed with breast cancer and more than 40,000 will die. 
  • Although breast cancer in men is rare, an estimated 2,600 men will be diagnosed with breast cancer each year and approximately 440 will die. 
  • 40% of diagnosed breast cancers are detected by women who feel a lump. 
  • Over 2.8 million breast cancer survivors are alive in the United States today.


THE SUSAN MC CONNELL STORY

 Since the age of 5, Susan had a best friend. While Susan and her younger sister Sharry were very different, they were always close. Even as adults they joked and laughed like girls. One day when Susan tossed something to her sister, Sharry said “Ouch.” 

After some questioning, Susan, then an X-Ray technologist, found herself reviewing her sister’s recent mammogram results.  Months earlier Sharry found a lump in her breast and received a mammogram in her small Kentucky town. She asked the mammogram technician about what she found, but was assured it was nothing. She was never contacted and told otherwise. 

Being one who did not sweat the small stuff, Sharry had ignored what she later found out was aggressive cancer growing in her breast. Five years later, Sharry lost her battle with cancer. 

After Sharry’s death, Susan struggled with how to move forward without her confidant. When the opportunity to become a mammography technician at White-Wilson Medical Center arose, Susan jumped on it. 

“Every morning, I pray that I will do my job to the best of my ability, because I know how important it is,” said Susan.  “My job is to get the best possible image for the doctor and to listen to what the patient has to say. I am always going to make sure the patient’s concerns are heard and that I take everything they say seriously.” 

In honor of her sister, Susan spends her days capturing images that may find nothing…or that may confirm a patient’s worst fear. 

“Sometimes it is hard not to get emotional,” said Susan, “but my motto is to find it early, pluck it out and live. That is why mammograms are so important.” 



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