Save The Tatas.
Fight Like A Girl.
Save Second Base.
Go Pink or Go Home.
I Love Boobies.
Yes, another month of pink is upon us. Many, including you, will wear pink for a school or work function, post a pink-ish photo on Instagram (#iDoItForTheLikes), participate in a community-wide event, and even purchase something pink in the grocery store to show your support.
The need for breast cancer awareness was rooted in silence. Women, men, and health care providers were silent. Breasts and breast cancer were not mentioned in public or private conversations. Women were dying and no one was talking. The silence was deafening.
The silence ended when a First Lady Betty Ford was diagnosed with malignant breast cancer and had a mastectomy. There was a need to educate women and men about the disease, empower those diagnosed and remember those we lost.
But something happened along the way.
Yes, breast cancer is the most common cancer among women in the United States. It is the second leading cause of cancer death in women, after lung cancer. One in eight women will develop breast cancer in her lifetime. The chance of a woman dying of breast cancer is one in thirty-six. (Breast Cancer Facts and Figures 2013-2014)
For African American women, the prognosis is even more severe. Breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in African American women and the second leading cause of cancer death. While the incidence rate is lower than that of white women, the mortality or death rate in African American women is nearly two times higher. Data such as this proved the necessity of the founding of the Sisters Network by Morgan State’s Karen Eubanks Jackson.
No, I am not I going to criticize major organizations for their part in the commercialization of breast cancer awareness month. I am going to pose a simple question to you the reader.
Is your pink on purpose?
Think about it. How will you fight breast cancer?
Give. There are plenty of organizations that serve breast cancer patients and their families, in your area. Host a game or arts and crafts night for families. Provide a home-cooked meal or gift cards to a local restaurant. Make goody baskets with your sorors to give to patients.
Speak. Use your voice for change. Defeating breast cancer is not just about providing mammograms for all women over 40. The system must be challenged. Visit your local, state and national legislature. Share with them what’s wrong in your community. Limited access to healthy food. Poor transportation systems. Unsatisfactory health care providers. Insufficient healthcare coverage.
Change. What have you done for yourself lately? How have you made you better? Are you physically active? Eating fruits and vegetables? Have you put the cigarettes down? Limited your alcohol consumption?
The battle against breast cancer requires as little or as much of your time, talent and treasure as you decided to give.
October isn’t just about “saving” second base, it’s about transforming and impacting lives.
E. Clare Stewart, MSPH is graduate of Fisk University and Meharry Medical College, School of Graduate Studies and Research. She is a doctoral student in the Institute of Public Health at Florida A&M University. Follow her on twitter at @EClareStewart or contact her via email at ecstewart@HBCUstory.com.