October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, an annual international campaign aimed at increasing awareness of the second most common cancer in women, with the goal of someday ending it entirely. Although deaths from breast cancer continue to fall, they’re declining at a slower rate than in previous years, and the number of cases we’re seeing is rising. It is very important that we take this valuable opportunity to talk about this dreaded disease and increase our knowledge on the topic.
The American Cancer Society estimates that there will be more than 271,000 new cases of breast cancer this year alone, 99 percent of which will be diagnosed in women. Of course, risk factors like age and genetics cannot be avoided, but there are steps you can take to lower your own breast cancer risk, and most of them are related to maintaining good health in general. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) recommends maintaining a healthy weight, exercising regularly, and getting regular screenings if you are older than 40.
Unfortunately, most of us have either faced a cancer diagnosis personally or been close to a friend or family member who has. Until we eradicate this terrible disease altogether, it is important to know about the resources available to those in the fight. Throughout my time in Congress, I have considered it a privilege to play in the Congressional Women’s Softball Game, a charity event benefiting the Young Survival Coalition (YSC). YSC aims to improve the quality of life for young adults affected by breast cancer. My team didn’t quite pull off a win during this year’s game, but I could not be prouder of what we accomplished. We raised more than $365,000 – a new record – to benefit YSC and their important mission supporting individuals battling breast cancer.
A cancer diagnosis is certainly never easy, but organizations like YSC make it possible to navigate these challenging circumstances, and I am grateful for their work. During the month of October, I encourage you to increase your own awareness about breast cancer and the risks associated with the disease and tell your loved ones to do the same. As with many other forms of cancer, early detection is critical and saves lives. If you are currently battling breast cancer, please know that my prayers are with you. You can access valuable information by visiting www.cancer.org/cancer/breast-cancer.html.
Martha Roby represents Alabama’s Second Congressional District. She lives in Montgomery, Alabama, with her husband Riley and their two children.