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Expanding the Awareness of Breast Cancer by Cheryll Boswell

Cancer is the word no one or family ever wants to hear. Yet, we all know someone who has been impacted by this disease. In the United States, 1 in 8 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer. As of January 2022, there are more than 3.8 million women with a history of breast cancer in the U.S. This includes women currently being treated and women who have finished treatment.

Four years ago, our local cycling group Black Girls Do Bike-Peoria, started a bike riding event to bring awareness about breast cancer after my sister was diagnosed with breast cancer. Cycle for Awareness was created to encourage her and others who have been diagnosed and bring awareness about the importance of early detection. My sister has always been my biggest supporter when it came to anything cycling related. We had to find a way to encourage her while she was going through chemotherapy treatments. This bike ride gave her hope. The ride was held in October to commemorate National Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

Breast Cancer Awareness Month, began almost 40 years ago, when the American Academy of Family Physicians along with organizations and businesses that included the American Cancer Society and pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca, created a partnership to educate women about breast cancer and the importance of early detection. Their goal was to have women take charge of their breast health. In addition to education, using mammography for early detection to combat breast cancer was one of the key objectives that came from this partnership.

The pink ribbon became a theme for breast cancer around 1991. The Komen Foundation handed out pink ribbons to participants in a New York City race. The pink ribbon got more notoriety in 1993, when socialite and Vice President of Este Lauder Cosmetic Company Evelyn Lauder, founded the Breast Cancer Research Foundation. She used the pink ribbon as part of her campaign to brand awareness for breast cancer.

There are many health issues that affect women more severely than men and breast cancer is one of them. While this disease is the most common form of cancer affecting women in the U.S., men, (less than 1%) will develop breast cancer. There are also illnesses that impact women of color more severely. They include diabetes, heart disease, infertility, and sickle cell disease.

There are many factors that influence this health disparity, the most prominent and concerning is understanding and knowing what healthcare resources are available. Peoria is fortunate to have the Komen Foundation and other medical resources available in this City. The Komen Foundation is committed to eliminating barriers to care for individuals and communities experiencing breast health inequities. Our goal for hosting Cycle for Awareness is to bring education, awareness of how to prevent breast cancer, and access to services if diagnosed. Proceeds from the Cycle for Awareness bike ride support the Komen G. Foundation.

October is the month to bring awareness of the availability of health resources to the community, especially those related to breast cancer. Whether you choose to walk or ride a bicycle, we encourage you to do something in October to raise awareness. Everything you do will benefit someone fighting cancer