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October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month We have awareness, now what?

By Lori Brown, Director of Special Events Tri-Cities

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month We have awareness, now what?In 1982, Susan G. Komen started a conversation that became a movement and changed lives. Thirty-five years later we are charting a bold path forward. We are turning awareness into more action, moving intentions into more impact.  We will harness our community and honor the everyday heroes. We’ll celebrate the impact of every action, because action is what ultimately defines our movement.  We are more than a color, we are More Than Pink!

The world of breast cancer detection and treatment has changed since Komen began. In the 70s, women suffered breast cancer in silence.  There were limited resources and information support available. There was little to no awareness of mammography. Total mastectomy was the standard surgical procedure, and breast-conserving surgery (lumpectomies) was adopted in late 1970s.  Chemotherapy and radiation were the only nonsurgical treatments. Tamoxifen was approved to treat only patients with advanced breast cancer.

During the 80s, Susan G. Komen was founded and launched the breast cancer movement.
Komen launched its Race for the Cure series to engage community and raise funds.  At that time only 30% of women 40+ were undergoing mammograms.  Komen Affiliates began forming to support local women and raise funds.

Advancements began to come more quickly in the 90s: identification of a genetic link to some breast and ovarian cancers; less invasive surgical techniques are introduced; Herceptin and Taxane treatments are approved; first drug to reduce risk of developing breast cancer approved; breast cancer patient advocate for more federal funding a breast cancer research; advocates help establish the national breast and cervical early detection program for low income and un insured women.   It was also during these years that Susan G. Komen Knoxville began.

In the 2000’s researchers began to discover breast cancer subtypes based on discrete sets of genetic changes. Genetic test were developed to help determine which patients need more aggressive treatments. In the following 10 years new treatment for HER2+ breast cancer was approved:
pertuzumab, transtuzumab emtiansine (T-DM1).  During this time, Congress passed the EARLY Act requiring breast cancer education for women under 40. Affordable Care Act requires coverage for screening mammography. Advocacy for equal access to oral anticancer drugs has resulted in oral parity laws being passed in 43 states.

From 1997 – 2016, locally, Komen East TN has contributed to the research and advancements made in the fight against breast cancer.  But we have also funded assistance here, in our local 24 county service area.  We have granted over $10.1 million in those counties. With those funds we have provided screening and diagnostic services to under and uninsured women and men.  We have provided patient assistance to patients battling breast cancer – so they don’t have to choose between power, food, transportation, or shelter and fighting breast cancer. We are proud of the impact we have made locally!  We are proud of those who have supported us!  And we are proud of the difference Komen is making!

In the next 10 years, you are going to see more difference, more landmarks, more action…

Komen’s Bold New Goal is to reduce breast cancer mortality by 50% in the next decade!

You see, it is one thing to talk about a cause; it is another to do something about it. So we’re done talking. We want more doing. We’re not one to get lost in a crowd of pink. We want to turn our pink ribbons into kick booty kung fu belts. Let’s support the heroes who are keeping us going. Like Laura, who fights every day to get out of bed, or Brad, who drives Shannon to all her chemo appointments. Pink isn’t always as pretty as it sounds. And the thing is we are much more than just a color. We are More Than Pink.

So, here’s to the heroes.  Who are making a difference.  Who get out there and take action.  Who prove every day that they are so much more than a color.  Are you looking for a way to be More Than Pink? Join us for our 13th Annual Tri-Cities Race for the Cure April 21 at the Kingsport Center for Higher Education.   Visit www.KomenEastTN.org to register and begin fundraising today!

8 Warning Signs of Breast Cancer
1. Lump, hard knot, or thickening inside the breast or underarm area.
2. Swelling, warmth, redness, or darkening of the breast.
3. Change in the size or shape of the breast.
4. Dimpling or puckering of the skin.
5. Itchy, scaly sore or rash on the nipple
6. Pulling in of the nipple or other parts of the breast.
7. Nipple discharge that starts suddenly.
8. New pain in one spot that does not go away.

Go to http://komeneasttennessee.org/about-breast-cancer/eight-warning-signs/for more information.

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