Think Pink In October

Breast Cancer Awareness Month is the perfect time to show support for those dealing with this type of cancer.


Elena Krueper, Staff Writer

Many people know that October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month; however, many of those people don’t seem to fully grasp how serious the illness really is.  

Breast cancer is a disease in which malignant (cancerous) cells form in the tissue of the breast area. According to the CDC, other than skin cancer, it is the most common cancer among American women, and around 1 in every 8 women in the U.S. is expected to develop invasive breast cancer over the course of her lifetime. This disease is not only exclusive to women, however, as nearly 2,650 men are expected to be diagnosed with breast cancer in 2021.

There are many risk factors that can affect a person’s chance of developing breast cancer. For example, sex, age, and genetics play a huge role in a person’s risk of developing the disease. In some cases, however, people can also be diagnosed in their younger years. In fact,  Eleanor “Ellie” Krueper, a 67-year-old local Granger resident explained, “When I was 37, I had a mammogram done after experiencing some symptoms, and the doctors found that I had a lump. Luckily, I caught it in its early stages and had it cut out before it could progress into something worse.” 

Many women are just like Ellie and experience various symptoms. For instance, the CDC states that some symptoms of breast cancer include pain in the breast area, a lump in the breast or underarm, a change in size or shape in the breast, or nipple discharge. Not everyone experiences the same symptoms, though, and some people have no symptoms at all. 

Although breast cancer is very common, there are also numerous ways to prevent the disease. Mrs. Janie Boyden, a gym teacher at Elkhart High, emphasized this with great passion: “Make sure to listen and follow the advice of your doctor.  Learn to do self-examinations once a month, and make sure you have an annual physical until you are old enough to get a mammogram.” Continuing on, she says, “Also, encourage the women in your life who are over 35 to plan and schedule their annual mammogram.” That’s not the only way to prevent breast cancer, though. Ellie gave some other really insightful advice. “Limiting alcohol consumption, exercising regularly, minimizing stress, and getting a mammogram are all good preventative measures.”

One common theme that can be drawn from these two women is that scheduling a mammogram is extremely important. Both of these women recommended getting one— and for good reason. Having a mammogram done annually is a crucial thing for women over 35 to do. Since a mammogram is an x-ray that doctors can take of the breast, it allows them to check for early signs of breast cancer, even if patients show no signs of the disease.

In fact, this is precisely what happened to Mrs. Boyden.After taking part in annual Breast Cancer Awareness Campaigns over the years, last spring, due to early detection from a mammogram, I too have become a cancer survivor. I had a lumpectomy and four weeks of radiation.  Even though we were still in the height of the pandemic last January, I kept my mammogram appointment.  It was stage 1 cancer because it was detected early.”

This shows precisely why mammograms can help and stop the spread of breast cancer. It was because of Mrs. Boyden’s thinking and prioritizing of her health that she was able to catch her cancer quickly in its early stages. This is also why she compels other women to “stay informed and schedule your mammogram appointment today.”

After learning the facts, it easily becomes more clear to people why raising awareness for breast cancer is so important. It affects (and has affected) tons of women and should be talked about more often. So, since next month is October–Breast Cancer Awareness Month–people should try their best to help raise awareness in the Elkhart community.

Some ways that people can  help raise awareness include wearing pink and/or a pink ribbon to show support for survivors and people who are currently affected, donate money to foundations such as the National Breast Cancer Foundation, or to simply become more informed about Breast Cancer and help spread the word both during Breast Cancer Awareness Month and every month after. 

After learning about these two women’s experiences with breast cancer, it becomes more clear to people why preventative care and becoming informed is so important. Disease in its infancy is far more conquerable than one that has had time to mature. So, do not discredit visiting the doctor while still in good health and make sure to help spread awareness whenever and wherever possible.