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Savvy Gal Spotlight: The Familiar Faces of Breast Cancer

Savvy Gal Spotlight: The Familiar Faces of Breast Cancer

By Monique Reidy ~

At the risk of seeming slightly frivolous, I’ll confess that October is the month I stock up on all kinds of darling pink goods and appliances, confident that a portion of the costs of those products will somehow benefit breast cancer research. As shallow as that sounds, the “pink” campaign is actually enormously powerful and I reassure myself of that fact as I make my purchases. Beyond its mere merchandising and branding prowess, “pink” has had an amazing impact on the lives of countless women, many of whom have experienced its life-saving benefits.

Because we hear so much about the fight against breast cancer (much to the credit of so many hard-working services and volunteers), most of us know that October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. And since these days none of us are devoid of media of any sort, we have learned to accurately associate that symbolic pink ribbon with the battle raging against one of the most dreaded diseases imaginable.

There are a number of prominent organizations in this effort whose names we easily recognize.  Among them is the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer, who we know because we’ve seen the “In It to End It” crusade ads. And we recognize the Susan G. Komen Foundation because of their compelling “Race for the Cure” drives. Such wonderful work, and such selfless dedication by a host of amazing people, but yet to those who have not been personally exposed to breast cancer, the disease to all intents and purposes, simply affects an anonymous mass of nameless women.

As effective as those proactive campaigns are, I seem to have been oddly desensitized by them. Unconsciously, breast cancer became a faceless, overpowering force that seemed like it was growing into a battle that would wage on forever without resolve. I lost sight of the face of the individual fighting for her life; she had unintentionally faded within the very ads designed to bring public attention to her cause. The woman afflicted with breast cancer had evaporated into that effective campaign that made me want the pink t-shirt and really cool pink mixing bowls every year.

But this year is different.

When a friend of mine was diagnosed with breast cancer early this year, the disease suddenly caught my attention. Witnessing her recovery after her double mastectomy was a lesson in courage and a demonstration of how a human being can rise above paralyzing fear and overturn a death sentence. A single mom of five kids, her determination to get better was fierce and it won. Suddenly, breast cancer had a face, a family and a story.

Today there are more than two million breast cancer survivors in the U.S., and modern medicine is a big reason for that success. We now know that early detection is key. And thanks to those charities, drives and campaigns, women are becoming more proactive and learning that some habits — like exercise and a healthy diet — may effectively reduce the risk of breast cancer. These organizations are providing literature that informs women about treatment options and the measures that may be used to help prevent breast cancer in women at high risk. While there are still casualties, there are now more triumphant survivors than there have ever been and with continued research there will be even more.

In celebration of this ongoing conquest we at salute all those who are wholly devoted to help find a cure for breast cancer, and we congratulate all those who have survived to tell us their wonderful stories of  victory.

And that pink mixer at Williams Sonoma? I say buy it.