Sunday, October 7, 2012

Moving Beyond Awareness


I know I have been MIA.  Life has been busy and most days I'm trying to keep up with the boys and the to do lists.  But everything is good.  We had a wonderful vacation where family joined us and the boys were surrounded by sand and sea and love.  The days have turned into weeks and weeks have turned into months.  Time is flying!

We are also closing in on the kick off of the 3-day walk.  I feel like I started this journey a lifetime ago and I'm not sure how I feel about it soon coming to an end.  Maybe I'll write about that all soon.  But today I wanted to write about something that I have written about before but as time passes I feel a growing urgency to share again.

It's October, which means the nation turns pink.  Many major brands roll out pink products all with proceeds going towards one breast cancer charity or another.  Even the NFL goes pink for October.  Don't get me wrong I love pink and I get a little choked up when I see those big brawly men decked out in hot pink but the message is the same message it has been for over a decade; one of awareness and screenings.  Totally important but I'd be shocked if you could show me someone who is naive about the risks of breast cancer and the need for annual screening.

Advocacy is important but research is critical.  Research is what is going to find a cure.  Research is what is going to save lives.  I get a little bit annoyed when I read about a company's charitable campaign and education is still the initiative that is front and center.  We need to move research up to the forefront.  October can't just be about breast cancer awareness anymore because awareness is not enough.  There's a lot of awareness out there and yet the statistics are startling. 108 women die from breast cancer every day. 

Stop and think about that for a minute. While I walk 60 miles in 3 days 324 women will die from Breast Cancer and 2,301 will receive the life changing diagnosis.  This is just not OK.

Education and screening might shrink that number slightly but research is what will lead to prevention and a cure and anything short of that is simply not good enough in my mind.  If we want to see a day when our kids don't have to worry about breast cancer the way we do then the time is now to shift the conversation.

So what can you do?  Ask where your money is going.  Make sure that the cute pink shirt or bracelet you buy funds more than just awareness.  Look into the organizations you donate to and find out what the funds are used for.

And while you are at it consider being part of the cure by joining the Health of Women (HOW) study which is being conducted by the Susan Love Research Foundation.  If you are a woman you qualify.  If you are a man with high risk factors they want you too. 

The goal of the HOW Study is to carefully study a large group of women and men over time to investigate the causes of breast cancer. In order to do this, they will need to include all ages, ethnicities, and races, as well as to compare those who have been diagnosed with breast cancer to those who have not. The HOW Study will ask you to answer questions about your health and health habits over time to give us a view of what people are doing and how their health is being affected.  In return for your time you get the satisfaction of being part of something that could change the future!

Let's make this October about more than just pink ribbons. 

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