October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, but I really don't need anyone making me any more aware of the disease than I already am.
Both my mother and grandmother died of breast cancer over 30 years ago, and one of my aunts is an oncology research nurse, working on breast cancer.
So I'm well aware.
I'm well aware also, that breast cancer, although the disease I hear most about, is not the number one killer of women. That honor belongs to heart disease.
But apparently heart disease doesn't have nearly the crack team of pr people that breast cancer does, because you'd never know it was the leading killer by looking out at the vast sea of pink ribbons. Breast cancer has an Awareness Advantage.
I wonder what the point of all this awareness is? I mean, don't get me wrong, I wouldn't want women to stop getting mammograms or doing self-exams, or for goodness sake to put researchers out of business. But why not put our efforts behind eliminating the Big Number One for a while instead?
I have no love for cancer, having also lost my father to liver cancer; trust me, it is truly evil and insidious in my opinion. But one of the reasons I hate and fear it so much is that it doesn't seem to be preventable. No amount of mammography will make the cancer not grow in the first place.
Sure, it can be fought valiantly once it's discovered, and the earlier the better, I get that. But why are we fighting so hard against the Second Leading Cause of Death among Women and letting Heart Disease awareness and research dollars fall off?
I realize that heart disease has a genetic component that we can't do anything about, but there are lots of things can do to keep our hearts strong. According to the Mayo Clinic, the top 5 things to do are: stop or never start smoking, get active, eat a heart-healthy diet, maintain a healthy weight, and get regular health screenings. I know that might sound a little ascetic, but these are very do-able things that will actually have a result in your life.
I am all in favor of helping make women more aware of the things they can do to live longer, healthier lives. And while I personally don't need any more awareness of breast cancer and much more about heart disease, I am ultimately in favor of all the pink ribbons. I just wish I saw more red ones.