Breast Cancer Awareness Month proves power of education

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Maya Maldonado (7) receives breast cancer awareness ribbon on college visit to Texas State. Photo by Sarah Walker.

Maya Maldonado (7) holds breast cancer awareness ribbon while on college visit to Texas State. Photo by Sarah Walker.

Pink ribbons have glossed across the screens of televisions nationwide as the United States watches football. The White House was lit up pink on October the first. The Eiffel Tower sported a pink hue on September 28 and numerous high school sports teams across the nation have been wearing pink ribbons, bows, and socks. This is all for National Breast Cancer Awareness Month (NBCAM).

In 1985 The American Cancer Society coined October NBCAM. October became dedicated to eliminating the taboo on breast cancer and encouraging women to get screened. Breast cancer is the most common cancer in women, nearly 12% of women get it, and for a long time no one spoke of it.

Since 1990, five years after October became NBCAM, the incidence rate of breast cancer has gone up, while the mortality rates of breast cancer have gone down by 34%. The incidence rates have gone up because more women have gotten screened and diagnosed. However, the mortality rate has gone down because when breast cancer is caught in its early stages it is much easier to treat.

These numbers show that when awareness is raised about a taboo issue, people eliminate the scandal factor surrounding the problem and work to make positive change.

Right now 25% of women experience domestic violence. Many women don’t speak up because they think the abuse they experience is their fault–they chose the wrong person and so the abuse they experience is their responsibility. Domestic violence accounts for 6% of homelessness nationwide (people move out to escape their abusive partner) and 15% of all violent crime happens between intimate partners. If there was a national campaign that encouraged women to speak up and forgive themselves like there is for breast cancer, I think that homelessness and crime would go down.

Additionally, the three states with the highest incidence rate of teen pregnancy include New Mexico, Mississippi and Texas. These states either provide sex education that isn’t required to be medically correct, or sex ed that focuses on abstinence-only methods. If the students in these states were better educated, I believe the teen pregnancy numbers would plummet.

Breast cancer awareness month is a national campaign that demonstrates the power of education and awareness. When people aren’t afraid of speaking about “taboo” issues, whether that be breast cancer, domestic violence, or sex, the issues that come with these problems can often be eliminated.