Breast cancer

Lynn Vollbracht, Shelia Arasmith, LaVonne Schultz, Anna Martensen and Mary Raimondo - they're all survivors.

These five local women were kind enough to share very personal details of their breast cancer battles with us for our week-long series, “Think Pink,” which concludes today. Their stories should serve as reminders just how common breast cancer is around the world and in our community.

In reality, practically everyone knows someone who is battling breast cancer these days. In 2018, the Susan G. Komen organization estimates 266,120 new cases of breast cancer diagnosed in women and 2,550 in men. It also predicts, 40,920 and 480 breast cancer deaths among women and men, respectively, this year.

The thing is, one death is too many, and in many cases, can be prevented. Although the people in our series had different stories and experiences, there was a common thread among them all: Their strong advice for people to be proactive instead of reactive.

Early detection is the key, as the five women reiterated.

Yes, wear pink - wear all the pink you want. Make sure to sport a pink ribbon. Participate in walks to raise funds and awareness. But, it doesn’t stop there. If we’re going to strive to eliminate breast cancer, we must go beyond thinking pink.

Set aside time for self-examinations and make an appointment with your doctor to undergo the proper screening. Then, tell your spouse, your mother, your grandmother, your friends, your children, cousins and co-workers to do the same. We get caught up in the color and various events with good intentions in mind, but we can be more effective in hopefully eradicating the disease and at least reducing the number of diagnoses and deaths by starting with ourselves and those immediately around us.

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Breast cancer awareness starts with us as individuals.

Some of the women who shared their stories said they regretted not getting a mammogram sooner. Out of respect to them, and the millions of people who’ve bravely battled or are currently battling breast cancer, let’s stop making excuses.

Encourage those you love and care about to get their annual mammograms. Ladies and gentlemen, if you notice changes in your breasts, you need to go to a doctor and not delay. Yes, we said gentlemen, because though it’s rare, 1 in 1,000 U.S. men are diagnosed with breast cancer.

Talking more about it now is better than having regrets later. So think pink, but make sure you’re chatting about it, too.

To learn about risk factors, treatment and more, visit https://ww5.komen.org/.

To read all of the previously published stories in our “Think Pink” series, visit columbustelegram.com.

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