Blaine’s Bulletin: Breast Cancer Awareness Month 2021

Every October, America comes together to observe National Breast Cancer Awareness month to bring light to prevention and show our support for the families this disease has touched. Unfortunately, the chances are high that we all know someone or a family who has been affected by breast cancer. Every two minutes in this country, a new case of breast cancer is diagnosed. Studies show that breast cancer is the second most prevalent type of cancer for women in our state and we will sadly have lost over 800 lives to breast cancer by the end of this year. This month is always an important opportunity to spread awareness about the significance of screening and early detection, as well as offering our prayers and support for survivors, those courageously battling the disease, and the lives we have lost to breast cancer.

The good news is that with education, early detection and regular screenings, the survival rate for breast cancer is increasingly encouraging. The American Cancer Society recommends women get annual mammograms from age 40-54 and every two years after that. The pandemic threw a wrench into all sorts of plans, regular doctor appointments – including annual mammograms – being no exception. Sadly, many families have paid a heavy price for that. Now is the time to schedule preventative measures. There are more than 3.8 million breast cancer survivors in this country, which truly goes to show that this disease, if caught early, can be beat.

Every Congress, I introduce legislation advocating for support for “mammovans,” or mobile mammography stations to allow increased access for all women to this critical, potentially life-saving service. My bill has bipartisan support this year and would lower operating costs for mammovans and allow them to reach even more Missourians. As we know here in the Third District, access to health care in our more rural and underserved areas can be difficult, and these mammovans provide access to screenings for those who might not otherwise have it. In a time where everything is partisan, I hope we can all at least agree on the need for these services.

The Susan G. Komen Foundation – the leading breast cancer non-profit in America – has a Missouri chapter and their website, is a wonderful resource for prevention and combatting the disease. It also highlights the Breast Cancer Awareness events happening all over our state. This month is about honoring every person and every family who has had to walk the journey through breast cancer. We pray for the Missourians who have been lost, and cheer on those who are fighting for their lives. And of course, this month always serves as a good reminder to visit the doctor for a mammogram or remind a loved one who may have forgotten to get screened this year. While we get closer to a finding a cure each and every day with advancements in modern medicine, we are not there quite yet. Early detection is the best tool we have.