Local News

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Posted September 30, 1997 12:00 a.m. EDT

— Breast cancer awareness month is symbolized each October by pink ribbons. This year, the news is both good and bad. Breast cancer is on the rise, but early detection and treatment are getting better and better.

Still, breast cancer remains the most common type of cancer, killing another woman every 11 minutes. The vast majority of women fighting breast cancer are over the age of 50. However, 92% of breast cancers are curable if caught early, and treated aggressively.

Women came together at the state Capitol Tuesday to kick off breast cancer awareness month. Their goal is to educate other women about how to detect and treat breast cancer early. They want people to know that breast cancer is not a death sentence.

"I cried. I'm not going to tell you I didn't cry."

In 1991 Gwen Bishop, who was 34 and a newlywed, was diagnosed with breast during a yearly physical. She had a masectomy. Today she's 40, cancer free, and pregnant with her first child. To Gwen, that's her biggest miracle and greatest blessing.

Gwen volunteers for a group called "Save Our Sisters of Wake" which educates women about breast cancer.

"They have been through it," explains outreach coordinator Dolores Burnett. "They share their experience with us, but also with clients to prove that breast cancer does not mean a death sentence."

Women like Gwen want to get the word out that breast cancer awareness is a lot more than just wearing pink ribbons. They want women to know the American Cancer society guidelines for early detection: monthly self breast exams, annual clinical exams and annual mammograms after 40.

Health educator Ellen Monteith says there's a really great chance of survival from breast cancer if you find it early.

"It took me down a different avenue to see life different," Gwen says, "and that's the way I see life now; different, but better and I love it."

It's important to note that the guidelines for mammograms are different if you have a history of breast cancer in your family. If so, you need to talk to your doctor. That was just one of the many important issues stressed at Tuesday's kickoff, which was hosted by WRAL'sPam Saulsby.