We'll be seeing a lot of the color pink this month, on National Football League players, Horry County Fire Rescue firefighters and emergency medical technicians, even in beverages and food at places holding benefits for the Georgetown and Horry counties nonprofit Caring in Our Lifetime.
The show of pink, of course, is to promote breast cancer awareness month.
Across the Grand Strand and the nation, the real point of breast cancer awareness is about early detection, treatment and support. As is the case in many other medical situations - prostate cancer being one that comes to mind - early detection is so important. For early detection and treatment of breast cancer, a mammogram often is the key for successful treatment. That was the case for one Horry County breast cancer survivor, Wendie Alderman. Last week she signed a "Pink Heals" firetruck named Kayla at the Little River Fire Station 2.
Her frankness and ease in talking about her experience is absolutely critical to winning the battle with breast cancer. She credits her survival with the support she had during two battles beginning with her first diagnosis in 2001. Her last go-around ended after a mastectomy in July 2006. The support she praises includes doctors, friends and family. The latter mainstay is her husband, Garry Alderman, who is the chief of Horry County Fire Rescue.
The Pink Heals firetruck, owned by Jon Smith of Tabor City, N.C., and about 185 Horry Fire Rescue Department members purchasing pink shirts for the month are related to the chief's support role in his wife's experience. "I think it's a very worthwhile program with a very good cause. It's something that just doesn't affect women. It affects everybody. ... It's for cancer awareness all over," Garry Alderman says.
Increasing awareness of breast cancer, including detection and treatment, is undoubtedly one of the reasons more victims of the disease are winning battles with breast cancer, the most common type of cancer among women, according the American Cancer Society. In the United States, breast cancer is diagnosed in nearly one in four cancer cases. This year, the ACS estimates 209,000 new cases of breast cancer. While, sadly, an estimated 40,230 patients will not survive, more than four times as many - 168,770 - will survive. New breast cancer cases in South Carolina will total 3,270 women and men. According to the Mayo Clinic: "Though breast cancer is most commonly thought of as a woman's disease, male breast cancer does occur."
As Wendie Alderman points out, breast cancer is not limited to older women. "It's now being discovered in people in their 20s, 30s and 40s. These women need to be aware, and prevention is key; get the mammograms." Survivors like herself can help others and educate them, but "only they can take care of themselves. They have to be the one to make the choice to get a mammogram and go to the doctor and get treatment."