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Breast Cancer Awareness Month

As the fall colors start to shine across the valley, another color will start making its yearly appearance as the calendar flips to October — Pink.

Soon you will find pink everywhere. From athletes at every level, to the wait staff at your favorite restaurants, everyone will be sporting pink in honor, celebration, and to serve as a reminder that October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

According to the World Health Organization, breast cancer is the most common cancer among women worldwide, claiming the lives of hundreds of thousands of women each year and affecting countries at all levels of modernization.

Each year it is estimated that over 252,710 women in the United States will be diagnosed with breast cancer and more than 40,500 will die. It is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in women and the second leading cause of cancer death among women.

In recent years, perhaps coinciding with the decline in prescriptive hormone replacement therapy after menopause, we have seen a gradual reduction in female breast cancer incidence rates among women aged 50 and older. Death rates from breast cancer have been declining since about 1990, in part due to better screening and early detection, increased awareness, and continually improving treatment options.

So, now for my yearly reminder about early detection and screenings.

Let all the pink serve as a reminder to not only donate to worthwhile charities supporting the fight against breast cancer (more on that in a minute), but also as a reminder to take care of yourself.

Set a reminder on your phone, write it on your calendar, whatever you need to do to stay on schedule and check yourself every month. You can check out for tips on self-exams as well as signs to look for during exams. also has a section with step-by-step directions with several options for self-exams. Remember to bring up any irregularities to your doctor as soon as possible. There is a good chance that any lump you find is benign, but it is always better to be safe. This is also true if you have any sort of discharge or pain (beyond normal tenderness associated with hormonal changes).

Listen, no one likes the idea of turning 40. It’s especially unpleasant to know that you now need to start getting the girls squished by a mammogram regularly. However, forty is the age when women should start getting regular mammograms (with the caveat, of course, that your personal history and family history may affect when you need to start getting them). Even women who have no symptoms and no known risks for breast cancer should have regularly scheduled mammograms to help detect potential breast cancer at the earliest possible time.

The bottom line is that early detection is vitally important to beating breast cancer. So make sure you are doing all that you need to in order to protect yourself.

Now. Let’s talk about that pretty pink ribbon and your pennies.

I hate to be a Debbie Downer, but please do your due diligence before donating to anything this month. There is no trademark on the pink ribbon, so pretty much anyone can slap it on pretty much anything and claim that it is supporting Breast Cancer Awareness.

So before you buy or donate, ask these questions:

How much, if any, of the product’s proceeds go to a breast cancer charity?

Which organization gets the money?

Does the organization receiving the proceeds run programs or sponsor research that will help overcome breast cancer?

Does the company selling the pink ribbon product also support, sell, or manufacture products tied to breast cancer, such as cosmetics containing carcinogenic chemicals?

Is there a maximum amount that the company have set on their donations to breast cancer charities? Will they notify customers upon reaching this amount?

Remember — ‘A portion of the proceeds from this sale will be donated to help fight breast cancer.’ Doesn’t really tell you much does it?

Bearing these questions in mind will help you make the most effective decision when buying pink to support a breast cancer charity.

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