Reba Sarkar explained cancer in terms the Greenbrier High School band members would understand - as an off-note musician at a concert.
"When you are playing a concert and one of you is out of tune, he or she will be heard," said Sarkar, the president of the local chapter of the American Breast Cancer Association, to a band class Sept. 22.
And just like an off-key musician, cancerous cells stand out because they can't read the DNA code to stop growing, so they keep invading and destroying healthy cells, Sarkar said.
Her educational meeting with Greenbrier's band also was to inform them about the American Breast Cancer Association's upcoming Pink Ribbon Run, which the school band kicked off in 2003.
For this year's event, which will take place Saturday at Lake Olmstead, the school will again be sending runners and walkers on their way for the eighth annual run.
The run is part of National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Sarkar uses the event to spread the word about prevention and early detection of breast cancer.
According to the American Cancer Association, breast cancer is a leading killer of women, second only to lung cancer. Early detection drastically increases the chances for a successful treatment of the disease, which is estimated to be diagnosed in nearly 216,000 women a year.
Three Georgia women die every day from breast cancer - a statistic Sarkar says is unacceptable. She said that's why her association works hard to raise money for free mammograms for women who need them.
All proceeds from this year's Pink Ribbon Run, which includes a 5k run equivalent to 3.1 miles and a one-mile children's walk, will go toward the mammograms, prevention and early detection education and research.
"We want to protect the whole Augusta area," Sarkar said. "We are ambitious. We want to wipe out breast cancer in our lifetime."
Sarkar hopes to have many more runners, especially young people, at the run than the 200 who showed up in 2003.
"The fact that breast cancer attacks no certain age or race or whatever, it's scary," Sarkar said.
She stressed the importance of starting good health habits early to Greenbrier's female band members. She said those habits include annual breast exams by a doctor and monthly self exams.
For more information about the walk, call Sarkar at 860-8127, 228-4499 or visit www.abca.info.
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