Breast Cancer Awareness Month: How Texans Can Get Involved
By: Piper Meeks, Contributor
One of the scariest phone calls I’ve ever received was from my mom after a routine mammogram; she said that the doctors had found an alarming lump and that a biopsy was necessary. Annual mammograms have been something that my mom has never even thought to take lightly. When she was only eight years old, her mother passed away as a result of breast cancer, so she was very aware of the consequences of not detecting the disease in its early stages. Many prayers later, we found out my mom was just fine and that the lump was not cancerous; nonetheless, the scare most definitely heightened my awareness of the disease and how I should better prepare myself for what could quite possibly be handed down to me from earlier generations.
If you’ve yet to notice the overwhelming amount of pink in just about everything this month, you must be living under a rock. October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, which is basically a campaign dedicated to increasing awareness of the disease. Although it is safe to say that the majority of the population is aware of the disease, often people are unaware of the steps that can be taken to detect the disease in its early stages, which can prove detrimental for those who are diagnosed in later stages.
There are a number of ways to get involved with breast cancer awareness in October, one way being through the Julie Rogers “Gift of Life” Program. Located in Beaumont, Texas, the “Gift of Life” Program has “developed into one of the largest and most comprehensive cancer screening and awareness programs in Texas,” according to their website. The “Gift of Life” reaches people in seven counties through Texas, including Chambers, Jasper, Jefferson, Hardin, Newton, Orange and Tyler counties.
Not only does the “Gift of Life” program provide services that focus on breast cancer awareness, they also provide educational outreach that focuses on prostate, testicular, ovarian, and other gynecological cancers. They provide free mammograms and prostate cancer screenings with access to follow-up treatment for those that otherwise couldn’t afford the tests. They even have a tobacco prevention program, “Don’t Smoke Your Life Away,” which targets both adults and children.
The “Gift of Life” program began in 1994 and has since helped extend the lives of almost 200 people – all of which were diagnosed with breast or prostate cancer during their free screenings provided by the program. 25 women have been diagnosed with breast cancer and six men with prostate cancer just in the past 18 months. The “Gift of Life” has shown these individuals the way to treatment and has also provided support services for them and their families.
The “Gift of Life” has gained recognition for its accomplishments by being named the number one public health organization addressing critical needs in the state of Texas. In 2011, the Texas Medical Association Foundation presented the 2011 John P. McGovern Champion of Health Award to the “Gift of Life” program.
As Texans, we should take advantage of having an organization like the Julie Rogers “Gift of Life” Program that offers so many benefits and opportunities to learn more about breast cancer, among other medical illnesses. One way that you can help save lives through the “Gift of Life” program is by purchasing a Pink Shopping Card, which offers 12 days of discount shopping.
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