By Kaci Schneidawind
Cancer comes in many forms but only a few get a month dedicated to raising awareness of the disease. One of those cancers is breast cancer, and its month of awareness is October.
Breast cancer is essentially the uncontrolled growth of breast cells. It occurs as a result of mutations in genes that are responsible for maintaining the health of cells and regulating their growth.
The affected cells then divide at a rapid pace, and produce cell copies that form a tumor. The term “breast cancer” therefore refers to an infectious tumor that has developed from cells in the breast.
About 1 in 8 American women will develop invasive breast cancer at some point in their life. One of these women include one of Bethany’s own professors—Dr. of Education, Polly Browne.
Browne was diagnosed during October of last year. Luckily, “it was caught as soon as possible,” she said. The cancer was made up of two tumors, and she reached stage 3A.
Browne then underwent an extensive treatment process which included surgery to remove the tumors and 16 rounds of chemotherapy along with 28 radiation treatments. Browne is now in remission.
She noted the importance of the raised awareness of breast cancer and routine mammograms.
“Raising awareness of breast cancer raises the awareness of the need for more research,” Browne said. “Regular screening is important because early detection can minimize the extent and intensity of treatment and increase the [patient’s] survival rate.”
Browne encouraged participation in organizations and programs that fund breast cancer research.
She added that while showing up to walk, run or support others is emotionally beneficial, the real purpose of awareness-raising is to raise monetary donations that contribute to the funding of research projects or support programs related to breast cancer.
“Awareness-raising activities like Relay for Life, the 10Kato and other events only benefit cancer research if people donate money,” Browne said.
Bethany also helps raise awareness for breast cancer during the month of October by dedicating a volleyball match to the cause, which has taken on the title “Dig Pink”. Both players and fans wear pink clothing at this match, as the color is associated with breast cancer as a symbol for awareness-raising and support for women with breast cancer.
Breast cancer is a beast that so many are striving to beat. Awareness for it is annually heightened during the month of October, with many events and activities planned around the Mankato and Bethany communities to show support to both survivors and current cancer patients.
Dr. Browne is an exemplary figure to look up to in these communities by demonstrating the courage and tenacity it takes to battle breast cancer. Nobody has the same cancer story, but hers reminds one of the reason for the breast cancer awareness season each and every October.