Many might expect to see their neighbors and friends wear pink during October, but the color typically favored for spring isn't a new fashion trend for the fall: It represents Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
Evelyn Lauder, the senior corporate vice president of the Este Lauder companies, founded Breast Cancer Awareness Month in 1993.
Each October, many survivors of the disease, such as Cheryl Howard, 48, of Martinez, a 10-year survivor, wear their pink ribbons and educate others about the illness.
In 1998, when Howard went to a new physician, she was asked to do a baseline mammogram because of her age.
"Sure enough, that's what showed up," she said. "Of course, it was a shocker."
After a lot of soul-searching, Howard decided on a lumpectomy, the process of just removing the lump and not the whole breast.
After six to eight weeks of chemotherapy, Howard's condition was improving.
"This has changed my life. You look at things differently, even after 10 years," Howard said. "Every day you worry about it; every time you go to the doctor, every feeling you have."
Howard now is a coordinator for Reach for Recovery, a program with the American Cancer Society that pairs breast cancer survivors with new patients.
"I realized in this journey that I was having, I was very fortunate to have support from all different sources, but I knew there (were) women that didn't have that support," she said.
Tonya Loftis, 35, of Martinez, also had a good support system when she was diagnosed in March 2007.
"This brought my family closer together. Once everyone got over the initial shock everyone was very supportive," Loftis said. "The support was overwhelming."
Loftis chose a more aggressive procedure -- a double mastectomy, a procedure where the breasts are completely removed.
Following months of chemotherapy and radiation treatments, the mother of two went back to work.
"You're never promised tomorrow," Loftis said.
Like Howard, Loftis works as a volunteer with new cancer patients and participates in events like Relay for Life.
Learn more about the disease at the American Cancer Society Web site, www.cancer.org.
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