During the month of October, Americans from across the country come together to raise awareness about a disease that will affect one in eight U.S. women at some point in their lives: breast cancer.
This year alone, nearly 300,000 women will be diagnosed with invasive breast cancer. It’s the most common form of cancer among American women, with a new diagnosis turning a family’s life upside down once every two minutes. Because it touches the lives of so many women, chances are you know someone who has been diagnosed.
But for all the worrying facts surrounding breast cancer, there is hope, too. More than 3.8 million women living in the U.S. today fought breast cancer and won the battle. Many of these courageous survivors caught their cancer early, through regular screenings like mammograms or ultrasounds. It is important to encourage as many women as possible to take advantage of these opportunities.
This is why I am always so inspired to see the many ways Nebraskans support cancer patients, survivors, and research during Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Community gatherings, fundraisers, and other events are a great way to show these Nebraskans that they have the support of an entire state – and here in the Good Life, you don’t have to look far to find ways to join in.
Concrete Cares, a nonprofit run by Kearney Concrete, has been helping Nebraska families fight back against all kinds of cancer since 2013. This month, they have partnered with the Nebraska Forever Pink Foundation to raise awareness specifically about breast cancer. Together, they are hosting events across South Central Nebraska throughout October.
At St. Wenceslaus Catholic School in Omaha, the 8th grade girls volleyball teams organize an annual “pink out” fundraiser. To raise money, they sell candy and pink hair ties after school, with all proceeds going to a family fighting cancer in their parish community.
Other schools across Nebraska are holding similar pink out events this month, including the UNL softball team, who recently hosted the University of South Dakota for their annual breast cancer awareness game. Players from both teams donned pink uniforms to “strike out cancer.”
And in Scottsbluff, police officers are wearing pink badges on their uniforms this month for the third year in a row. They are one of 23 public safety agencies across Nebraska participating in the Pink Patch Project this year, and one of hundreds across the country.
Awareness initiatives like these have been proven to work. As more women become aware of the dangers of breast cancer, more women are being proactive about their health. Regular screenings like mammograms are crucial to catching cancer in the early stages – a fact we recently celebrated on October 15, National Mammography Day. These screenings are always important, but they are even more so this year: Breast cancer screenings were down as much as 80% at many points during the COVID-19 pandemic.
In the U.S. Senate, I have been proud to support measures to help raise awareness. In 2019, Congress reauthorized the Breast Cancer Research Stamp, which helps fund breast cancer research at the National Institutes of Health and other federal agencies.
I am proud of all that Nebraskans are doing to fight back against this disease this October and every day of the year. Every dollar raised and every act of encouragement lets these brave Nebraskans know they are not alone in their battle with cancer – and it brings us one step closer to finding a cure.
Thank you for participating in the democratic process. I look forward to visiting with you again next week.