BUCKHANNON – Approximately 1,600 women in West Virginia will be diagnosed with breast cancer this year.
The Upshur County Commission approved the proclamation, making October Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
Robin Oldaker on behalf of Relay for Life said early detection and treatment of breast cancer has gotten better, but people have to take advantage of them.
“A lot of women choose not to make an appointment, whether it is fear that they may find out they have it or they just don’t make time; some say it is too painful or some just don’t want to find out,” Oldaker said. “The American Cancer Society suggests that women begin having mammogram at the age of 40, but insurance companies say 50.”
She said West Virginia has a program called Bonnie’s Bus, which travels the state to give women breast exams, even if they have no insurance or little insurance.
“It’s also said that women as early as 20 years of age should start doing self-breast exams and continue throughout their lifetime,” Oldaker said. “This, combined with yearly physicals and mammograms will save lives.”
She said breast cancer is usually considered a disease specific to women, but that is not true.
“Last year, over 3,000 men [in the U.S.] were diagnosed with breast cancer,” Oldaker said. “This year, in West Virginia 1,600 or more women will be diagnosed with breast cancer, which to me is astronomical and unfortunately, around 300 of those women will lose their battle.”
One in every eight women in their lifetime with be diagnosed with breast cancer.
“I am one of those women. Mine was found during a routine mammogram and although mine was a very fast-growing cancer, because of the early detection, I was stage zero,” Oldaker said. “If I would have waited until I found the mass, I would have been a stage four and my diagnosis, and my survival rate and treatment would have been totally different.”
Oldaker said she hopes Breast Cancer Awareness Month will encourage and remind people to perform self-exams and make appointments for mammograms to help save lives.
Oldaker then read aloud the proclamation, which states: “Whereas while considerable progress was made in the fight against breast cancer, it remains the most frequently diagnosed type of non-skin cancer in women.
“And whereas, thanks to earlier detection and better treatment, survival rates for breast cancer have continued to rise in the last decade. Whereas during National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, we stand with our mothers, daughters, sisters and friends and we recognize all who have joined their loved ones and fighting their battle, as well as the doctors, researchers, and health care providers, whose care and hard work, gave hope to those living with breast cancer, and whereas by educating ourselves and supporting innovative research, one day, we will defeat this terrible disease.”