Hoping for breast cancer’s final story

Published 11:49 pm Saturday, October 2, 2010

I consider myself an educated man. I consider myself someone who knows a little about a lot and can in most cases intelligently discuss most topics. But, this week, I was absolutely floored by what I learned.

The statistics themselves are staggering.

They include such information as:

  • One in eight women, or 13 percent, will develop this disease.
  • In this year alone, 39,840 are expected to die from this disease, in this country.
  • From 1999 until 2006, the numbers of those diagnosed with this disease increased by 2 percent each year.
  • And, currently, thanks to good medicine, good treatments, good screenings, hard work and the grace of God, the number of those living who have survived and beaten this disease is now up to 2.5 million.

Email newsletter signup

The disease I am talking about is breast cancer. And, for the entire month of October, The Selma Times-Journal is working to bring more of a spotlight on the disease, the women who have fought and won, the treatments and counseling that are available for those fighting the disease, the screening methods for those wanting to avoid the disease and the stories of those who valiantly fought the disease and ultimately lost.

Beginning with the edition the staff put together on Friday, we have included a pink ribbon drawn by a sixth grade student at Morgan Academy.

Last Thursday, reporter Laura Fenton and I had the chance to go visit one of the classes as we asked them for their artwork.

Aside from the big smiles and laughs we saw, as well as the one pickup line thrown Laura’s way from a very confident young man, we saw a classroom of children who knew more about the disease than you would expect.

When we asked them about the disease and if anyone in their family had been diagnosed or anyone they knew, just about every one of them raised their hand.

Whether it was their mother, their aunt, their grandmother or a friend of the family, a good number of the students knew someone, a fact that is both disturbing and unifying.

Disturbing in that so many are impacted this disease each year and unifying in that we, as a community, can rally together to bring more awareness to screening techniques and raise money for treatments.

For years I have lent my personal support, and that of the newspaper I worked for, to the American Cancer Society and Relay for Life. Just like with breast cancer, cancer overall has affected so many families and taken so many from us.

But, the good news is we can win this fight. With continued education, research and enhanced screening techniques, there is a chance this disease can be defeated in our lifetime.

Through the month of October, you will continue to see stories on treatment options, counseling groups and survivor stories such as the one published Friday about Jan Parker.

Our short-term goal with this coverage is to provide a clear picture of breast cancer’s impact is on our community and the treatments available. Long term, we hope to one day write about the defeat of breast cancer and the lives of so many being saved.

Tim Reeves is editor of The Selma Times-Journal. You may reach him at 410-1730 or e-mail him at tim.reeves@selmatimesjournal.com