By Minority Leader Rep. Craig Ford
Did you know that October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month?
Most of us know someone who has been diagnosed with breast cancer. It’s an illness that can affect any woman, regardless of age, race, where they live, or their socio-economic background.
The American Cancer Society estimates that in 2012 alone, 226,870 more women will be diagnosed with new cases of invasive breast cancer, and as many as 39,510 deaths from breast cancer. It is a leading cause of cancer death among women, second only to lung cancer.
Breast cancer is an illness that impacts all of our lives. Fortunately, there is something all of us can do to help.
Every year, the American Cancer Society hosts a series of walking events called the “Making Strides Against Breast Cancer Walks.” The walks are held to honor breast cancer survivors, raise awareness about what we can do to stay well, and raise money to help fight the disease with breast cancer research, provide information and services, and provide access to mammograms for women who need them.
Anyone can participate in one of these walks, from corporate CEOs to schoolchildren. The walks typically range from three to five miles long, and participants ask their friends and businesses to sponsor them by contributing to the American Cancer Society.
This month, there will be three walks taking place in Alabama. On October 6th, a walk will be held in Tuscaloosa at Government Plaza. On October 13th, a walk will be held in Montgomery at Huntington College. And on October 27th, a walk will be held in Mobile at the Mobile Civic Center.
If you are interested in participating or learning more about the walks, you can call 1-800-227-2345 or visit www.cancer.org/stridesonline.
The money you help raise will be used to support cancer research and to help the American Cancer Society fund its programs to help women diagnosed with breast cancer.
The Society offers several programs and services – available 24/7 – to help cancer patients, including: offering free information about treatment options; the Reach to Recovery program that helps newly diagnosed patients cope with their experience with breast cancer; the Look Good Feel Better program that helps patients manage the physical side effects of their treatments; and residences like the Joe Lee Griffin Hope Lodge in Birmingham that provides free lodging to cancer patients and their caregivers who have to travel far from home to receive their treatments.
The Society also uses the money it raises to help raise awareness about what women can do to prevent breast cancer or to catch it earlier, such as eating a balanced diet, exercising regularly, limiting alcohol intake, and getting regular screenings from a physician. The five-year survival rate is 99 percent for breast cancer that is diagnosed in the earliest stages.
Breast cancer affects us all – not just women who get diagnosed with the illness. Democrats in the Alabama legislature care about women’s health, and we want you to know that you can help make a difference. Even if you do not live near one of the cities that are hosting a Making Strides walk, you can still support the cause with a financial contribution and by helping raise awareness about breast cancer. And the support you provide today may one day save your own life or the life a woman you love. Please get involved. Please support the American Cancer Society and the Making Strides Against Breast Cancer Walks.
Representative Craig Ford is a Democrat from Gadsden. He has served in the Alabama House of Representatives since 2000. In 2010, Representative Ford was elected House Minority Leader by the House Democratic Caucus. He was re-elected Minority Leader in 2012.