Breast Cancer Awareness Month: Spreading hope and unity


Green Hope High School

Green Hope High School’s football game against Holly Springs incorporates “Pink Out” as the night’s theme to honor Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

Megan Khor and Neil Parmar

Created in 1985, Breast Cancer Awareness Month acknowledges the history behind the most prevalent disease among women in the United States. Every October, survivors and individuals living with breast cancer are celebrated and supported while sharing their personal stories. The inclusion of an entire month devoted to awareness provides understanding, research, and education around the world.

Across the nation, breast cancer affects thousands of women. The month plays an important role in raising awareness about it. (Neil Parmar)

Breast Cancer Awareness Month initially began after Betty Ford, a survivor of breast cancer, promoted a week-long celebration to raise awareness about the disease. Today, it exists as a partnership between the American Cancer Society and the pharmaceutical division of Imperial Chemical Industries. 

Others, like Nancy Brinker, the woman who founded the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation, also played a crucial role in the month’s founding. Since 1985, movements like Think Pink have continued to increase the awareness of breast cancer with every year. 

Around the nation, breast cancer impacts one in every eight women. Additionally, in 2022, professionals predicted almost 340,000 diagnoses of the cancer in women with 43,550 of the diagnoses to result in death. 

North Carolina residents are not excluded from those affected. Over 6,000 North Carolinian women are diagnosed with breast cancer each year, and over 1,000 of those women die as a result of the cancer. It is the second leading cause of cancer deaths in women in North Carolina.

For survivors, the recognition from Breast Cancer Awareness Month has aided in more ways than one. The acknowledgement of the cancer helps reduce stigmas, increases local support for those with cancer and helps with funding. It also helps individuals recognize that breast cancer can affect anyone, and it has even impacted families at Green Hope.

“If I hadn’t had a screening, I don’t know when I would’ve caught it,” said Green Hope Principal Ms. Alison Cleveland. Diagnosed with an early stage of breast cancer in August 2021, Ms. Cleveland took matters into her own hands. “I decided on the day that I was diagnosed that I was going to fight,” she said.

Breast Cancer can serve as an obstacle to daily life. For Ms. Cleveland, it took her out of work for two months. If caught too late, later stages of breast cancer would require chemotherapy and radiation measures to be taken.

The more that people know that early screening is best the more likely they are to catch it early and be able to recover faster.

— Ms. Alison Cleveland, Green Hope Principal

Ms. Cleveland, however, was not the only Green Hope community member impacted by this cancer.

Deciding to have a mastectomy on both her breasts while losing a friend to breast cancer, Ms. Allison Tibbetts, one of Green Hope’s counselors, shares a similar experience. “It just makes me that much more aware and empathetic for those who are dealing with it, especially those who have been diagnosed with stage IV cancer,” added Ms. Tibbetts.

Ms. Catherine Dillon, the Green Hope Registrar, also shared her experience with breast cancer. With this diagnosis being her second one, her family played a massive role in helping her fight through it.

“It brings a family closer…you need the support of all your family and all your friends,” Ms. Dillon noted. 

Almost everyone has been affected by breast cancer either directly or indirectly…Being aware, and continuing to support funds for research on breast cancer helps further the cause.

— Ms. Allison Tibbetts, Green Hope Counselor

Ms. Dillon also discussed the improvements in modern medicine by comparing her first diagnosis with cancer to her second one 17 years later. 

“When I was diagnosed with breast cancer, I was absolutely stunned at the research that had been done. They gave me a test to see if it would return, and because of that, I did not have to have chemo. I had radiation, but the research has been so wonderful and it’s because of breast cancer awareness,” said Ms. Dillon.

Breast Cancer Awareness month serves as a safe place for individuals like Ms. Cleveland, Ms. Tibbetts and Ms. Dillon to educate those around them and take charge of their breast health early on.

Affecting not just women but everyone alike, the month is a reminder of the obstacles survivors and patients face everyday. Through increasing awareness on the topic of breast cancer, survivors are continuing to speak up about their experiences in hopes of helping others as well as the cause. 

With public events like 5K charity runs, recognition with professional sports and other forms of publicity, in-depth research on breast cancer has helped save many lives. By staying educated and informed, individuals are able to provide information to themselves and others, illuminating a brighter path for research in the future as awareness continues to expand.

Celebrate everyday, because everyday is a gift.

— Ms. Catherine Dillon, Green Hope Registrar

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