It’s October: Be a pink panther!

October! Growing up as a child, the things that came to mind when I heard that word were: jumping in leaf piles, wearing silly costumes and, of course, eating way too much candy! Don’t get me wrong, I still love doing all of those things, but now, October carries a much more powerful meaning for me. It’s National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. It’s a month where you really can’t go anywhere without seeing something with a little pink ribbon on it. For example, have you been grocery shopping lately? The makers of everything from toilet paper and Kleenex to milk and cereal are all giving a portion of your purchase to one of the many excellent breast cancer foundations.

According to the American Cancer Society, one in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer at some point during her life. This number is personal to me, as my mom was one of the nearly 40,000 women who eventually lose their life to this disease each year. Thankfully, this number continues to decline with new advancements in medicine. Even so, most doctors will agree that early detection remains incredibly important for successful breast cancer treatment.

All women, regardless of family history, should conduct monthly self-exams to screen for unusual lumps or masses. Women in their twenties and thirties should also have a clinical breast exam by a healthcare provider at least every three years. Those over 40 should receive a yearly mammogram.

Although there is a great deal of sadness that comes along with breast cancer, there are also many wonderful success stories. In fact, there are nearly 2.5 million breast cancer survivors in the United States alone! While I am still deeply saddened with the loss of my mother, I’m so very proud of women, like my grandma, who have won the fight. These women are heroes to many of us and proof that cancer doesn’t always win!

The support in the fight against this disease is incredible, and I encourage everyone to do his or her part. Several University of Northern Iowa students have already contributed to the cause. Colleges Against Cancer and Students Today Alumni Tomorrow sold several of their annual “Beat Cancer” t-shirts last week and Gamma Phi Beta recently held a breast cancer kickball tournament. Proceeds from both will go directly to raising awareness and towards cancer research.

Keep your eyes open for more awareness events on campus and make a point to do something special in honor or memory of a loved one who was affected by breast cancer. Whether it’s wearing pink to school or donating to the cause by purchasing a few essentials at the store, your support means the world to so many and is much needed.

For more information on how you can help in the fight, contact UNI’s capter of Colleges Against Cancer or the local American Cancer Society office at 319-272-2880. Together, someday we WILL cure breast cancer and return October to the simpler things in life, like leaf piles and candy!

Josh Wilson

Off-Campus Senator, NISG