October is Breast Cancer Awareness month which explains the abundance of pink you may be noticing everywhere you turn these days. This annual recognition month has a goal of raising awareness of this tragic, and all too common disease, as well as raising much-needed funds for research, treatment, and support. I would venture a guess that there are few of us who have not been touched by breast cancer in some way. It may have been a family member, a friend, a co-worker - or maybe even you - that has fought this disease.
Early detection has been proven time and again to be critical in positive outcomes and overcoming breast cancer. According to the National Cancer Institute, when breast cancer is detected early, in the localized stage, the five-year survival rate is 98%. That’s why there’s a strong focus in October, and throughout the year, on reminding people – women and men – of the steps they should take for prevention and early detection.
Orange County Health Commissioner Dr. Eli Avila encourages people, especially those with a family history of breast cancer, to create their own early detection plan. This plan includes knowing the signs and symptoms of breast cancer. Know your own body and recognize early warning signs – if you notice a lump or change in the breast tissue – don’t wait – speak with your health care provider. Perform a monthly breast self-exam. Again, discuss changes with your health professional. Have a clinical breast exam performed by a qualified nurse or doctor on an annual basis, as well as an annual mammogram after the age of 40. If there’s a family history, talk with your physician about starting mammograms sooner. Being proactive about your health will make a difference.
This Sunday, thousands of breast cancer survivors, supporters, advocates, and friends from throughout Orange County and beyond will convene at Woodbury Common Premium Outlets for the American Cancer Society’s annual Making Strides Against Breast Cancer event. It will be a sea of pink weaving through the parking lots, roadways, and paths as people join the fight against breast cancer and support their loved ones who have battled the disease. Some walk for themselves, others in honor of another, and some in memory of someone dear – all walk to find a cure.
Orange County Government’s Healthy Orange team will be out there Sunday to join the fight. I was very proud of County employees who were "pretty in pink" on a recent Friday and participated in the casual for a cause dress down day. The donations are still coming in from departments around the County and the funds raised will be donated to the American Cancer Society by our OCG Healthy Orange team. It is thanks to efforts like these that there have been dramatic improvements in cancer research, treatment, and early detection, and millions of women surviving breast cancer today. Although in my office, we have learned to call these women warriors - not survivors - they have done battle - and they have won! Think Pink this month and join the fight against breast cancer.
Until next week, I wish you all health and happiness.