Heroes in pink

Bravery is a word that gets tossed around. Sometimes it's justified; other times, not so much. But when you consider the challenges faced by those who have fought the monster called cancer, bravery seems like the appropriate word.

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Locally many businesses and individuals are displaying pink, recognizing those who have fought this disease and promoting prevention and early detection.

According to the American Cancer Society's estimates, there will be about 227,000 new cases of invasive breast cancer diagnosed in women this year. And while less common, it's still possible for men to be afflicted with it.

Early detection is key to surviving breast cancer, and self-checks -- for women and men -- are an important component. Additionally, the American Cancer Society recommends yearly mammograms for women age 40 or older. It's also recommended that women, as early as their 20s and 30s, receive a clinical breast exam by a health expert at least every three years. Women older than 40 should have a breast exam every year.

Men with a strong family history of breast cancer or with BRCA mutations, discovered through genetic testing, should also discuss with their doctor whether they should have a mammogram.

This month we remember those who have died from breast cancer and rejoice with others who are now cancer free. We encourage you to make early detection and prevention a priority for your own health and to consider how you might help those who heroically fight breast or any other type of cancer.

To read more about breast cancer, detection and treatment options, go to the American Cancer Society website at www.cancer.org.