Raising awareness around breast cancer

Ashleah Flores, News Reporter

Illustration by Silvia Catarino / The Runner

With October here, educating ourselves on the severity and importance surrounding breast cancer is beneficial. October is always an important month for my family and I as we celebrate my mom, Lydia’s, winning battle with cancer and how she is a survivor.
My mom was first diagnosed in 2012 after being prompted to have a mammogram just a year after her cousin battled it. After a year of chemotherapy and surgery, my mom was cancer free.

She said, “I feel blessed that I’m still alive.”

During her treatments, reading and focusing on getting better for her family helped pass the time for her. A close friend of hers gifted her a book of inspirational quotes. One stood out to her the most, “You never know how strong you are until being strong is the only choice you have.”

That is just a summary of what my mom went through amidst her battle, but not everyone ends their journey cancer free. For many families, loved ones lose their battle and worry that it may run in their own genes.

I know that for me, I have that worry. That’s why younger people must also be educated on this topic, so that they can get breast exams even if doesn’t run in their family. It is always better to be informed for both you and others.

Breast Cancer is a disease that affects at least 1 in 8 women every day. According to the American Cancer Society, breast cancer is the leading cause of death in women aged 45 to 62 and about 43,250 women will lose their battle with breast cancer in 2022. It is possible for someone younger to develop it, though it is rare.

Men are also susceptible to breast cancer. The chances are scarce but still very possible.

Kenneth, a male breast cancer survivor says in an interview with the CDC, “As a man, there was definitely a stigma, and I just didn’t want those questions, so I was fighting for my life, and no one knew what was going on.” He also said that he wasn’t aware that men could also have breast cancer. Breast cancer did run in his family, as his grandmother had it.

Many men are unaware of the possibility of breast cancer because it isn’t brought to their knowledge.

Jennifer Henry is the executive director of Links for Life, an organization that improves breast health outcomes in Kern County, educates and empowers our neighbors to take ownership of their breast health, and provide care and support to people affected by breast cancer.

In an interview with Jennifer, she explained that she and the organization she works with taught breast self-exams at West High School in Bakersfield. This is important because although it is not common, it is possible to develop at an earlier age than what is documented. Making it a point to inform young people on the matter is significant.

Jennifer stated the organization’s mission, “Links for Life believes everyone fighting breast cancer is a survivor.”

Links for Life also provides support groups for husbands and partners whose loved ones are fighting breast cancer. They also offer tons of resources for people in active treatment and past treatment that may need extra help or support.