The beginning of breast cancer awareness month was marked with sad news. VEEP actress, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, recently announced that she has breast cancer.
“One in eight women get breast cancer. Today, I’m the one,” she shared via Twitter.
“The good news is that I have the most glorious group of supportive and caring family and friends, and fantastic insurance through my union. The bad news is that not all women are so lucky,” she wrote.
While not everyone has access to truly affordable health care (simply having ‘health insurance’ is very different from access to affordable care), the good news is that, at least in the United States, we have access to information. As the saying goes, ‘knowledge is power’ – and thanks to the rise of breast cancer awareness, we know about breast self-awareness, about early signs and symptoms of the disease, what we can do – in part – to prevent it, and about the importance of mammograms.
However, that hasn’t always been the case. While the fight against the devastating illness is far from over, it’s important to acknowledge how far we’ve come.
From Terese Lasser, a breast cancer patient and activist who founded the Reach to Recovery program in the 1950’s; to the development of mammography in the 1960’s; to Betty Ford opening up a national dialogue about breast cancer in the 1970’s after her own diagnoses; to the creation of the Susan G. Komen foundation in the 1980’s; to the birth of the pink ribbon in the 1990’s; and finally, to the rise of the internet in the 2000’s, and social media and the proliferation of breast cancer awareness worldwide in recent years – we’ve come a long way.
Just 25 or 30 years ago, simply saying the word ‘breast’ in public carried a stigma. Now, even NFL players proudly don pink in honor of breast cancer awareness month. If that isn’t progress, I don’t know what is.