Alvin Ailey Dancers


14 October 2009

A GLOBAL FIGHT FOR OUR LIVES.

It's October and it is Breast Cancer Awareness Month again. Although there have been remarkable efforts in the United States to educate women about this deadly disease and provide services; there is still more work to do. So many women in disadvantaged communities in America, not to mention on the global stage, aren't getting the message nor are they getting the needed services. To complement the well-known symbol to the left is an image of this wonderful painting of multi-ethnic women to illustrate the importance of intensifying this on-going universal effort.


There are organizations that have a global perspective. The World Conference on Breast Cancer Foundation (WCBCF) comes to mind, though it's more of a clearinghouse for organizations worldwide who are committed to this struggle. The Susan G. Komen for the Cure Foundation is one of the largest grassroots organizations who also have global breast cancer affiliates in Italy, Germany and Puerto Rico. According to some of the statistics, more than 25 million will be diagnosed, globally and 10 million could die in the next ten years.

These statistics vary in the U.S. and in other countries depending on what organization is citing the figures; still one must agree that these are astronomical predictions. In some countries,there are also stigmas and ignorance that contribute to late stage diagnoses and high mortality rates. Examples of the latter exist in Egypt. According to Dr. Beatrice Wiafe Addai of
Breast Cancer International (BCI), it would not be an exaggeration to include some of the other third world countries in this group. In one report, she states "the statistics are staggering; breast cancer is the leading cause of death among women".

Soledad O'Brien did a few segments during CNN's special, "Black in America 2 ", on breast cancer in the U.S. and Ghana, which focused on the high rate of deadly tumors among black women. Triple Negative Breast tumors are the culprits and seem to occur more often in black women in both countries. Early diagnosis, usually, will not save these women and as part of that report, there was a segment on Daw
n Spencer.

She was diagnosed with Triple Negative Breast Cancer and has had 2 recurrences of the disease with a poor prognosis. This courageous woman is a fighter. During one of her remissions, she started a program to provide custom breast prostheses for low-income women. There are countless stories of women like Dawn Spencer who are fighting for their lives and making the best of what time they do have. Another segment profiles the wonderful and dedicated Dr. Lisa Newman, a world renowned Breast Cancer Surgeon who is diligent in her search for answers to this aggressive form of cancer.

Men are also stricken with breast cancer, however, according to the American Cancer Society, the statistics are far better for them. Estimates for 2009 cite approximately 1,910 new cases of invasive breast cancer among men in the U.S. It is further cited that this disease is 100 times less common among men than women. In 2009, about 440 men will succumb to the disease. In the same year , approximately 192, 370 new cases of invasive breast cancer will be diagnosed among women and 40,610 of them will die from it in the U.S. alone.

There is a light, however, widening at the end of this very long tunnel. More women are surviving this deadly disease. Various types and stages of tumors under the umbrella of breast cancer are responding well to the latest advances in treatment. One group that I stay in touch with,Living Beyond Breast Cancer (LBBC)
, is an organization that supports short and long-term survivors. There are still hurdles many of us must face after treatment. Their mission is to help the newly diagnosed who have completed treatment, those living with metastatic disease or need empowering strategies for taking control of their care. This organization is also a clearinghouse for those who are struggling with the chronic nature of the disease.



2 comments:

Niya said...

What a timely and always relevant topic. This post is full of good resources for people who are fighting the disease, as well as their families. Many women can have hope by knowing that there is life and purpose beyond breast cancer, as demonstrated through Dawn Spencer's story and in your experience. Your experience is a testament to the power of prayer and a sheer will to survive -- more than 20 years after your first diagnosis.

Moira said...

What a great post of information that I can share with my girlfriends. I have a friend who recently celebrated her 5 years remission. The other friend is in the “hurdle stage” of her treatments. Your “view” promotes awareness and also reminds me of the importance of yearly mammograms. Having family, friends, and organizations are valuable support resources that can be used to make a huge difference in their experiences as you stated, “to get them through the light at the end of their tunnel.” Until then, we must trust through continuous research on breast cancer that the fight will increase the amount of breast cancer survivors and decrease the amounts of diagnoses.

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