It looks a little silly, too. Just silly enough, we hope, to get your attention.
We need to get your attention. Why? Just think: One in eight.
One in eight. That’s the number of women who will get breast cancer in their lifetime. That’s a couple of women out of your Sunday School class, at least one on your street, maybe three or four co-workers. It’s your mother, your sister, your daughter or your best friend.
Its prevalence can’t be denied. Its toll on our community can’t either.
Cancer, or the “C” word as some call it, has long struck fear in our hearts – and much for good reason. Some cancers still are rarely detected until they are so advanced that a cure is difficult. Thankfully, breast cancer isn’t one of those. Mammograms have been common screening tools since the 1980s, and now digital mammography – even with 3-D pictures – has improved accuracy to find cancers as small as a grain of salt!
When breast cancer is discovered in its earliest stages, chances are it can be cured. Yes, cured. Now that’s a “C” word we can embrace.
Among all cancers treated at our hospital, the number of breast cancers is second only to lung cancer. Last year alone, we had 146 new cases of breast cancer. Statistics can seem cold, but just think about the impact these have on 146 families:
– More than one-third were under 60, women with families and jobs, in the prime of their lives.
– As a testament to the importance of breast cancer screening, more than one-half of the diagnosed breast cancers were Stage I or smaller, meaning they were caught early and had the best chance to survive.
– Looking five years out shows the real importance of early detection: 93 percent of Stage 0 cancers survived 5 years; 88 percent of Stage 1; and 84 percent of Stage 2.
The American Cancer Society says women should have a mammogram every year from 40 on – earlier if there is family history. Most insurance covers annual mammograms, and so do Medicaid and Medicare. It’s a quick test – in and out in 20 minutes – and the process has been refined for maximum comfort and convenience, my wife assures me.
All of which brings us back to the silly dance. Our hospital filmed its fourth annual Pink Glove Dance this year for a national video contest to promote breast cancer awareness.
Firefighters, EMS and police – mostly men – from 12 public safety agencies joined our doctors and nurses in the dance. They’re not from our hospital, but they are from our community, touched as we all are by the one in eight women with breast cancer.
As fun as it was to see the bomb squad in full gear with pink gloves, they are not the stars of our video. Our stars are the 24 breast cancer survivors who got their mammograms, lived through cancer detection and treatment to smile and dance for you to a song called, “The Best Day of My Life.”
To define the best day of their lives, many of the survivors wrote the dates they were considered cancer-free. Some of them wrote EVERY DAY, and others wrote TODAY to signify the joy in living each moment.
We hope you will honor their courage by viewing the video and voting every day now through Sept. 28 at PinkGloveDance.com, knowing that every vote serves as a reminder to someone to get that mammogram. So there are more survivors to join the dance.
William A. Brown is West Regional executive for Baptist Health and the president of Baptist Health Paducah.