Post by BCPP Volunteer & Breast Cancer Survivor Andrea Dannenberg
In 2021, I doubt there are many Americans who aren’t aware of “Pink October” aka “Breast Cancer Awareness Month.” The marketing for that annual event is amazing. I give corporate America and the organizations behind this annual event a lot of credit.
But as a breast cancer survivor, I must admit that it makes me cringe. I kind of dread it. It seemingly glamorizes an awful illness that is in no way pretty, pink or glamorous. At the same time, companies profit off us breast cancer patients and survivors: do we really know where those funds go and if they really are funding “awareness” or if “awareness” is really what needs funding? We all see it. So now let’s DO something already!
For me, February’s Breast Cancer Prevention Month is so much more important. It is critical. As a survivor, I don’t want any more women to suffer this disease. I made it through cancer treatment, but the side effects are lifelong. They aren’t easy. My life is forever changed by this diagnosis. I live with pain. My body is maimed. I live with constant fear that my cancer could return. Because, although early-stage breast cancer is treatable, there still is no cure for breast cancer. For some of us, it will return. In fact, more than 40,000 Americans die from breast cancer annually.
When I received my diagnosis 3 years ago, I spent countless hours wondering “Why me?” Like most breast cancer patients, I don’t have one of the genetic mutations associated with breast cancer risk. None of my relatives had breast cancer. I was in my 30s and fit—I led a healthier lifestyle than most probably do. Did I do something wrong? Was it my diet? Was it pesticides? Did I not exercise enough? Maybe it was the secondhand smoke I was exposed to as a child. Our minds don’t handle the unknown well. We naturally seek explanations.
But my own (maybe irrational) desire for answers to my unanswerable questions and my hope that others can avoid this awful diagnosis brought me to Breast Cancer Prevention Partners. I’m driven to support BCPP’s work to identify breast cancer causes AND address them. The groundbreaking Paths to Prevention: California Breast Cancer Primary Prevention Plan identifies 23 breast cancer risk factors and interventions which can help mitigate those risks.
While some of these risk factors can be addressed by us individually, many require societal changes and actions by our policymakers. But each action, each improvement, gets us closer to preventing another person from facing a breast cancer diagnosis.
If you’re wondering what you can do this Breast Cancer Prevention Month, please consider the following:
- Read Paths to Prevention and consider changes you can make to lower our own risk and ways you can advocate for change in your community to protect those around you.
- Visit BCPP’s Take Action page and join in, supporting legislative changes that reduce breast cancer risk and grow the movement for safer beauty, food, and homecare products.
- Sign up for BCPP’s emails to learn about future actions and BCPP campaigns.
- Refer a friend! Urge your loved ones to check out our work and get involved too!
- Download shopping tools, such as Clearya, that empower you to make conscious decisions as a consumer to avoid toxic, carcinogenic products.
Consider donating to support BCPP’s work to identify and eliminate environmental causes of breast cancer.