Breast-conserving therapy is a viable treatment option for African- American women, although they tend to have more advanced breast cancer at diagnosis, according to researchers from Beaumont Hospitals, Royal Oak, Mich.Courtesy Photo
Breast-conserving therapy is a viable treatment option for African- American women, although they tend to have more advanced breast cancer at diagnosis, according to researchers from Beaumont Hospitals, Royal Oak, Mich.Courtesy Photo

Breast cancer has caused great upheaval, sickness and death for millions of Americans, men and women. And once again, during the month of October, the medical world, along with interested fundraisers, will lead the way in securing funds and sharing the stories of those who have succumbed to the devastating illness as well as those who have survived.

Here are two efforts led by two D.C. organizations that hope to make an impact in a positive way.

First, The Washington Redskins have embarked on several initiatives throughout October in honor of National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Fans can join the Redskins in promoting breast cancer awareness by purchasing a limited-edition Redskins Fight Breast Cancer T-shirt designed by Redskins alumnus Chris Cooley.

Net proceeds will benefit the ZTA Foundation and the Brem Foundation, dedicated to educating women about risk factors and screening options and providing access to critical diagnostic tests for uninsured women. T-shirts are available online at www.Redskins.com/FightBreastCancer and will be sold in-stadium at Section 124 on Oct. 16.

The Women of Washington Redskins (WOW), the official women’s platform of the Washington Redskins, kicked off a lineup of events in support of breast cancer awareness with the WOW Redskins Charity Ride on Oct. 1. WOW has teamed up with the Redskins Charitable Foundation, along with Redskins two-time Super Bowl Champions Gary Clark and Ravin Caldwell, at SoulCycle to support the Brem Foundation.

On Saturday, Oct. 8, WOW will host a free Fitness Boot Camp led by Nike Trainer Deanna Jefferson at FedExField. Members are encouraged to bring a gently used or new bra to support the Brem Foundation’s Re-Bra initiative, a bra-donation program that provides bras to low-income women. In support of the Redskins Charitable Foundation, WOW will make a donation on behalf of every member who donates a bra, with each donor receiving a limited edition BCA T-shirt. And on Friday, Oct. 14, they will feature the Friday Night Lights THINK PINK!® initiative, a partnership between the Washington Redskins Charitable Foundation and Fairfax County Public Schools designed to promote breast cancer awareness and the importance of early detection at the high school football level. W.T. Woodson High School will host Lake Braddock Secondary School and the game will feature pink gear and stadium equipment.

And on Sunday, Oct. 16, the Redskins’ Breast Cancer Awareness Game, presented by Inova Health System, when the team takes on the Philadelphia Eagles, will feature players, coaches and referees wearing pink game apparel, additional on-field and in-stadium branding, and 34,000 pairs of gloves will be distributed to fans at the gates, along with information about how to receive mammogram and breast self-exam reminders from Inova – all to help raise awareness.

Fans attending the Oct. 16 game will be welcomed by Tanya Snyder, wife of Redskins owner Dan Snyder and NFL Breast Cancer Awareness Spokesperson, and hundreds of Zeta Tau Alpha members distributing THINK-PINK!® ribbons and breast cancer awareness educational materials. Mrs. Snyder and ZTA started the THINK-PINK!® campaign for breast cancer awareness in 1999 – when the Redskins were the only team in the league to participate. With the founding and continuous support of Mrs. Snyder and the Washington Redskins, ZTA created a national model for THINK-PINK!® throughout the NFL. Currently, all 32 teams in the NFL participate in the campaign.

Meanwhile, the United Medical Center [UMC], realizing that breast cancer rates in Ward 8 are disproportionately high, has recommend annual mammography starting at age 40.

UMC will once again hold its annual campaign to raise awareness of breast cancer risks, the value of screening and early detection and treatment options available to women and men who are diagnosed with one of the many forms of breast cancer.

Here are a few facts:

  • One in eight women in the U.S. has a chance of being diagnosed with breast cancer at some point in her life.
  • One in six breast cancer incidents occur in women aged 40-49.
  • An estimated 230,000 women will develop breast cancer this year.
  • Nearly, 90 percent of women diagnosed with breast cancer survive for at least five years, which is why early detection, screening and personalized treatments are key when it comes to saving lives.
  • Nearly 41,000 die from the disease every year.
  • The District of Columbia leads the nation in both breast cancer incidence rates (153.1 per 100,000 vs. the U.S. average of 122.0) and breast cancer mortality rates (26.3 per 100,000 vs. the U.S. average of 21.5).
  • According to the District of Columbia Department of Health, breast cancer is the second most commonly diagnosed cancer in the District of Columbia. The District’s Ward 8 has the highest incidence of breast cancer (173.9 per 100,000).
  • Although white women in the District are more likely to be diagnosed with breast cancer than African-American women, African-American women are more likely to die from breast cancer than white women.

Raymond Tu, M.D., FACR, chair of Radiology at UMC offers the following tips on how to prevent breast cancer.

Limit alcohol and don’t smoke. The more alcohol you drink, the greater your risk of developing breast cancer. Some studies also link smoking to increase risks of developing breast cancer.

Control your weight. Being overweight or obese increases the risk of breast cancer. This is especially true if obesity occurs later in life, particularly after menopause. Be physically active. Physical activity can help you maintain a healthy weight, which, in turn, helps prevent breast cancer. The recommended activity is 150 minutes a week of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity weekly.

Limit dose and duration of hormone therapy. Your doctor will balance your overall risk and benefits to replacement treatment.

Know your genes and family history: Five to 10 percent of breast cancers are linked to gene mutations (commonly in BRCA1 & BRCA2) and 15 percent of women who get breast cancer have a family member with the disease.

“While there are many new developments in the treatment of breast cancer,” Dr. Tu said, “the best thing to do when it comes to breast cancer is early detection. The earlier we diagnose the cancer, the better the chances we can successfully treat it. Any woman, particularly those over 40, should be examined and be tested as recommended by your care provider.”

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D. Kevin McNeir – Senior Editor

Dominic Kevin McNeir is an award-winning journalist with more than 25 years of service for the Black Press (NNPA). Prior to moving East to assist his aging parents in their struggles with Alzheimer’s,...

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