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October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month

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Many will wear pink ribbons for breast cancer awareness month.
RALEIGH — 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 arecurable if caught early, and treated aggressively.

Women came together at the state Capitol Tuesday to kick off breastcancer awareness month. Their goal is to educate other women about how todetect and treat breast cancer early. They want people to know thatbreast 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 breastduring a yearly physical. She had a masectomy. Today she's 40, cancerfree, and pregnant with her first child. To Gwen, that's her biggestmiracle and greatest blessing.

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

"They have been through it," explains outreach coordinator DoloresBurnett. "They share their experiencewith us, but also with clients to prove that breast cancer does not mean adeath sentence."

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

Health educator Ellen Monteith says there's a really great chance ofsurvival 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 differentif you have a history of breast cancer in your family. If so, you need totalk to your doctor. That was just one of the many important issuesstressed at Tuesday's kickoff, which was hosted by WRAL'sPam Saulsby.

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