Fighting from the Bright Side


When I write for CAWLM, it’s usually about things I can present in a humorous light. But this month, I’ve been asked to write about breast cancer, and that’s not funny in any light.

October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, 31 days in which information is shared at a heightened rate and extra fundraising takes place so that this bully, which is what breast cancer is, can be brought down once and for all.

Breast cancer invades the bodies of women, and sometimes men, to threaten and steal thousands of lives each year. It barges in, unwelcomed and uninvited. It wreaks havoc not only with the people it endangers, but with their loved ones who must cope with unimaginable stress and grief.

Most of us have known someone who fought breast cancer. I lost someone dear to me almost 20 years ago, someone I had known since I was 8 years old. When we learned that the cancer had spread and that the prognosis was so very bad, she asked me to come and be with her. But while staying with her provided comfort, it could offer no defense.

These days we have better weapons against the bully than ever before. Increased awareness is helping lead the way to earlier detection, and research is bringing more effective treatments. Awareness, early detection, funding and research are the weapons slowing the bully down. We need to keep wielding those weapons, all of us, as consistently as we can.

With the exception of skin cancers, breast cancer is the most common form of cancer among American women, and of all forms of cancer, only lung cancer kills more women in this country. The average risk of a woman in the U.S. developing breast cancer in her lifetime is about 12 percent. If we work the numbers differently, the chances are one in eight that a woman will develop breast cancer but seven in eight that she will not.

Imagine a world with no breast cancer. We’re heading in that direction. Between 1989 and 2015 the death rate from breast cancer dropped 39 percent. Part of that drop is thanks to researchers’ new understanding of the human genome, because with the mapping of that genome came waves of new research. Since 2017, breast cancer deaths have held steady in women under 50 and continued to decrease in older women.

Still, the sobering likelihood remains that roughly 266,000 new cases of invasive breast cancer were projected for 2018, and a total of almost 41,000 women are expected to die from it – again, in total this year.

So, let’s look at the bright side again. What are the reasons for the decrease in deaths? Most likely, early detection and more effective treatment, which brings us back to the importance of funds for research and heightened awareness in all of us. And they, in turn, bring us back to where we started:

October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. The statistics in this article come from the American Cancer Society.


Teece Aronin

Teece Aronin is a blogger and columnist. Teece writes a humor/health and wellness column for the Oakland Press and is the Featured Writer for October at Her artwork is available at the store, phylliswalter, and Teece seriously considers any request for workshops, coaching, and speaking engagements. Read her blog at, contact her at and follow her on Twitter @taronin

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