SUN CITY CENTER – October is breast cancer awareness month and South Bay Hospital is getting the word out that all women have two things in common: their breasts and the risk for breast cancer.
And for the first time the hospital, Sun Towers and the Sun City Center Area Chamber of Commerce are hosting a Pink Ribbons of Hope campaign to spread the word that early detection saves lives.
Each organization will sell pink ribbons in their lobbies for a minimum donation of $1 to be placed on dress forms that will be swathed in pink by month’s end. Each donor will receive a brochure outlining facts about breast cancer and the importance of regular check-ups.
“The campaign is not only about selling the ribbons but more so about raising awareness about how mammograms save lives,” said Natalia Diaz, South Bay Hospital spokeswoman. “The earlier breast cancer is diagnosed, the faster it can be treated, which increase improves the odds for a favorable outcome.”
Kings Point resident Dana Dittmar, the chamber’s executive director, wholeheartedly agrees.
“I’m a 21-year breast cancer survivor, so I’m a strong advocate for women understanding it can happen to anyone at any age,” she said. “We have to be diligent about self-exams and catching the disease early. That’s the only reason I’m still here.”
Older women are at also at risk, said Linda Thiffault of Apollo Beach. Her mother never went for a mammogram until she was prompted to by a family physician when she was 60.
“She learned she had early-stage breast cancer and underwent a lumpectomy, chemo and radiation,” Thiffault said. “Thankfully she received early treatment and has been cancer-free for more than 20 years.”
And Apollo Beach resident Debbie Caneen, director of admissions at Sun Towers, is living today because her daughter talked her into getting a mammogram when she was 50.
“I was always one the ones who thought I was living a perfectly healthy life,” she said. “When I got the mammogram I learned I had cancer, so I’m a big advocate for early detection rather than late discovery.”
Here are a some facts from the American Cancer Society about the disease:
• One in eight women in the United States will develop invasive breast cancer during her lifetime.
• Breast cancer is the second most common type of cancer among women in this country. Skin cancer is first.
• Older women are much more likely to get the disease than younger women. About 77 percent of the breast cancers diagnosed occur in women ages 50 and older.
• Mammography – a simple, low-dose X-ray – is the best way to detect breast cancer early, while it’s treatable. The procedure can detect breast cancer up to two years before it can be felt.
• All women are at risk. More than 90 percent of those diagnosed had no family history of the disease.
• There are no proven ways to prevent breast cancer and no cure.
That’s why it’s so important to do self exams and get regular screenings.
“Our goal is to encourage any woman who hasn’t had a mammogram to get one,” Diaz said.
To purchase a pink ribbon, stop by the Sun City Center Area Chamber of Commerce, 1651 Sun City Center Plaza; Sun Towers, 101 Trinity Lakes Drive; or South Bay Hospital, 4016 S.R. 674. Ribbons may also be purchased at the hospital’s Outpatient Diagnostic Center at 4051 Upper Creek Drive.
For more information on Pink Ribbons of Hope, call (813) 634-0172.