Fighting cancer must not end in October


Nearly one in every eight women will develop breast cancer in their lifetimes. This year, according to the American Cancer Society, nearly 300,000 new cases of invasive breast cancer will be diagnosed in women in the United States alone, with another 56,000 cases of ductal carcinoma in situ — an affliction of milk ducts that turn malignant, which is said to be an early form of breast cancer.
We promote awareness for this each year with a massive display of pink almost everywhere we turn. From pins that many wear on their lapels, to ribbons, to posters, to equipment worn by many of our sports icons, pink has become synonymous with our fight against breast cancer — the most common form of cancer in the world.
Hundreds of millions of dollars are raised for breast cancer awareness and research each year, and we can view those efforts with a sense of accomplishment for all that’s achieved over the month-long campaign.
Yet as October, Breast Cancer Awareness Month, draws to a close, those pink ribbons are replaced by Halloween and then Thanksgiving decorations, as the holiday season approaches. We turn our attention from cancer to other things.
But cancer doesn’t move on. In fact, some 50,000 people will be diagnosed with breast cancer between the beginning of November and the end of the year. That’s one woman every two minutes who will receive news that will change her life. These women simply can’t wait for October to roll around again for cancer to become society’s primary focus.
It’s not that cancer isn’t important to us all year-round. It’s just that all of us live busy lives, with so much that demands our attention. Still, there are ways to at least keep cancer in the conversation — and to continue giving even when the calendar flips past October.
The efforts of the American Cancer Society, for one, continue all year. Founded in 1946, the organization has invested more than $5 billion in research, including providing seed funding for 49 researchers whose work has won Nobel Prizes. One of the early researchers was Dr. Sidney Farber, who, in the cancer society’s first year, achieved remission of acute leukemia, successfully using chemotherapy for the first time.
When we do give of ourselves, it’s hard to see where those dollars end up. But all we have to do is take a moment and think of a cancer survivor. Any cancer survivor. Before World War II, a cancer diagnosis was almost always a death sentence, or required highly invasive surgery that promised little hope of success.
Now millions of people call themselves survivors, thanks to research and awareness that mean early diagnosis of cancer — and significantly increase the chances of success in treating it — that would not have happened if it weren’t for giving people like you. The American Cancer Society says that its programs have reduced the death rate from cancer by nearly a third. And 3 million more people got to return to living their lives after a cancer diagnosis between 1991 and 2017 because of those efforts — helping everyone, no matter what kind of cancer they’re fighting.
Please keep giving to charities like the American Cancer Society (www.Cancer.org), St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital (www.StJude.org), the Livestrong Foundation (www.Livestrong.org), the American Institute for Cancer Research (www.AICR.org), and the Cancer Research Institute (www.CancerResearch.org).
Closer to home, we have:
• The Children’s Leukemia Research Association (www.ChildrensLeukemia.org) in Garden City
• The New York Cancer Foundation (www.NYCancerFoundation.org) in Port Jefferson
• Cans 4 Cancer and Recycling 4 a Cure (www.Recycling4ACure.org) in Garden City
• The Long Island League to Abolish Cancer (www.LILeagueToAbolishCancer.org) in Old Bethpage
• The Rockville Centre Breast Cancer Coalition (www.RVCBCC.org)
• Cure Cancer With Music (www.CureCancerWithMusic.org) in Freeport
• Israel Children’s Cancer Foundation (www.IsraelCancer.org) in Lawrence
• Hewlett House (www.Hewlett-House.org) in Hewlett
And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
Giving life is not something we should focus on for just one month of the year. It should always be in the back of our minds, so we can continue making a difference. And continue until we finally defeat cancer once and for all.