October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and it’s a great chance to educate and also make a difference. My goal this month is to increase awareness and help inform the people of South Carolina about breast cancer and early detection.
One of the best ways we can work towards this goal is sharing the stories of our survivors and those currently battling the disease, as well as the memories of those lost. I have been sharing these stories on my Facebook page as part of our “31 Days of Awareness” campaign.
I was inspired to undertake this campaign in part because of the story of my friend Wendy, a survivor who has an amazing story to tell.
In 2002, at the age of 33, Wendy visited her doctor after her boyfriend’s dog Jake jumped on her and hit her right breast. She developed a black and blue bruise and small lump from the border collie’s strong leap. Wendy’s doctor initially diagnosed her with a blood clot. However, once the bruise disappeared, the lump had not, so she began to closely monitor it and eventually got a mammogram. When her results returned, Wendy discovered that she had breast cancer.
Cancer, in its early stages, is not always easy to detect. Wendy was blessed with what she calls her “furry angel” named Jake, and was able to stop a highly aggressive tumor from spreading. My friend is now 48 years old and a 15-year survivor. Two years ago, I was incredibly honored to give Wendy away at her wedding, one of those amazing moments you know you will never forget.
My reason for sharing this story is not only to share a life-changing story from a breast cancer survivor who is now flourishing, but to also encourage women to consult with their doctor and conduct self-assessments and mammograms as directed. Early detection can save lives, plain and simple.
Breast Cancer is currently the most common cancer diagnosed among women. According to the National Institute of Cancer, women in the U.S. have a 12.5 percent chance of developing invasive breast cancer during their lifetime. Women of color are also more likely to die of breast cancer due to late detection, according the American Cancer Society.
It is also important to remember that women are not the only people who are affected by this disease. Over years, thousands of men have been diagnosed with breast cancer. This year, approximately 2,300 men have been diagnosed with this cancer. This fact only adds to the importance of spreading awareness and educating as many people as we can.
That’s why I recently became a cosponsor of the Accelerating the End of Breast Cancer Act (S.746), which was sponsored by my good friend Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA). The bill seeks to identify, recommend, and promote initiatives, partnerships, and research that can be turned into strategies to prevent breast cancer with the goal of ending the disease by 2020.
I will continue working to spread awareness, celebrate our country’s survivors, like my friend Wendy, and remember those we have lost. Let us all come together to support everyone who is affected by breast cancer and beat this disease.
U.S. Senator Tim Scott serves on the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions. His 31 Days of Awareness campaign can be seen on his Facebook page (www.Facebook.com/SenatorTimScott) and Twitter (@SenatorTimScott).