It's time to think pink.
October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and like many other observances and events this year, it's liable to get forgotten as we continue to fight against the spread of COVID-19.
To be clear, that fight is still incredibly important. Keep wearing your masks, staying distanced from others, washing your hands and staying home when you're sick. Together, we can work to make a difference in the battle against the new coronavirus.
But this month, we should make an effort to focus on both causes — because, together, we can make a difference in the fight against breast cancer too.
"2020 has been a powerful reminder that we are all in this together, and our choices and actions have the power to protect the most vulnerable among us in a big way," writes the National Breast Cancer Foundation. "The same holds true when it comes to breast cancer. ... By working together, we can inspire hope and become a force for good to get (patients) access to the care (they) need."
The pandemic has grabbed headlines all year, but the truth is that breast cancer continues to be a major health concern for women and some men.
One in 8 women in the United States will be diagnosed with breast cancer in her lifetime, and breast cancer remains the most common cancer for American women (except for skin cancers), accounting for approximately 30% of all new cancer diagnoses in women, according to the foundation.
Interested in the numbers behind those stats? In 2020, an estimated 276,480 new cases of invasive breast cancer will be diagnosed in women in the U.S., as well as 48,530 new cases of noninvasive breast cancer. An estimated 42,170 women will die from breast cancer in the U.S. this year, according to the foundation.
So what can we do to help? Get involved with local organizations such as Hope 4 You Breast Cancer Foundation and Breast Cancer Foundation of the Ozarks, which work with patients and survivors to offer resources such as mammogram screenings and financial assistance.
Check out local fundraisers that benefit those organizations, including the pink ribbon bagel fundraiser going on this month at Panera Bread in Joplin, or contribute to national organizations that are involved in efforts to research the disease and find a cure.
Do your monthly self-exams and schedule your mammogram. Check with your physician to determine if you need to be doing any other preventive measures. Early detection is the key to prevention and treatment.
Let's give breast cancer awareness the attention and support it deserves this month. A lot of things have been brushed aside this year, but this issue shouldn't be one of them.