October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and cancer is a word no one wants to hear or think about, but the reality is it is more common now than ever before, and it affects not only the patient but also their families + friends.
More than wearing pink or participating in local events, here are some things everyone should know about breast cancer, because knowledge is power, and the more proactive we can be about screening the closer we will get to a world with less cancer.
South Carolina Breast Cancer Mortality Map (2013-2017) | Map via SC Cancer
○ While both men + women can be diagnosed with breast cancer, 1 out of every 8 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in her lifetime.
○ Nationally, breast cancer is the most common cancer in women, no matter their race or ethnicity.
○ Breast cancer is also the most common cancer among women in South Carolina + the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths among women in the state.
○ In South Carolina, approximately 3,845 women are diagnosed with breast cancer + 678 die from the disease each year.
○ Regular screenings are key to early detection and prevention. You may qualify for free screenings, read more about that here.
The good news is, due to breast cancer screening + early detection, long-term survival rates for breast cancer have improved dramatically over the last several decades, according to SC DHEC.
When compared to the 1960s (about 60 years ago) 63 out of 100 women diagnosed with breast cancer were still living five years following their diagnosis of breast cancer.
Today, 90 out of 100 women diagnosed with breast cancer are still living five years following diagnosis.
If you or someone you know has breast cancer there are many local programs that offer support and resources. As someone (Jess here) who has lost a loved one from breast cancer + seen first hand the impacts of this disease, community resources are important because it takes a village and, thankfully, you don’t have to conquer cancer alone.
Here are a few organizations you might not think *pink* about.
📍 Various artist locations
Personal Ink (P-ink) is a program that is dedicated to empowering women to reclaim their bodies after mastectomies. Through education + connection with experienced tattoo artists who can help, the program is committed to ensuring that breast cancer won’t leave the last mark.
Every October, tattoo studios across North America close for a day to create a free experience for recipients who have had mastectomies and are seeking closure through coverage of their scars with a custom tattoo of the recipients choosing. All tattoos are donated by trained artists who are experienced in tattooing over scar tissue. The Personal Ink Fund uses donations to pay artists to provide mastectomy tattoos the other 11 months of the year for those that can’t participate in the events.
📍3400 Harden St. Extension, Columbia
“Alala” in Greek Mythology is defined as “the personification of the feminine war cry.”
The Alala Cancer Society is a local non-profit organization that has provided hundreds of uninsured South Carolinians compression garments, mastectomy bras, camisoles, and wigs. Since January 2008, the Alala Cancer Society donor closet, which contains mastectomy and lymphedema supplies along with cranial prosthetics, is stocked with new and new-to-you items in an array of sizes and colors for post-surgical cancer clients whose health insurance either does not cover the needed items or the full cost of these items.
The organization serves individuals in Columbia, Rock Hill, Greenwood + Charleston.
📍42 Groves Wood Ct, Columbia
Columbia-native April began this non-profit organization, which provides financial assistance to women who are financially “in the middle,” after she experienced the financial hardship that comes with a cancer diagnosis. April began to speak with other women who also had cancer and realized that her problem was not unique – many women fall into the same category of insured or employed or both and did not qualify for any programs that would provide financial assistance but made too little to pay all the healthcare costs that come with battling breast cancer.
In the Middle also has a mentorship program, where survivors can be matched with a Breast Buddy to offer support when it’s needed the most.