It’s time to become informed

Carrie Fossum

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, bringing attention to the second-deadliest cancer for women.

But how big of an issue is breast cancer? About 1 in 8 women living in the United States will develop breast cancer during her lifetime. The American Cancer Society predicts that in 2007, roughly 40,460 women will die from breast cancer in the United States.

If breast cancer is detected early, it is one of the most treatable cancers. “We can make huge progress in the fight against cancer as a whole by focusing on this disease. The main message to increase early detection and survival, is that women 40 and over need to get a mammogram every year,” said Kathy Holdefer of the American Cancer Society.

October is “a time to remember those who have lost the battle to breast cancer and remind everyone about the importance of breast health,” said Krystal Obbink, student adviser for Colleges Against Cancer-ISU chapter and senior in management.

The American Cancer Society defines breast cancer as a malignant (cancerous) tumor that starts from cells of the breast. The exact causes of breast cancer are still unknown, although there are many known risk factors. Some breast cancer risk factors are: gender, age, genetics, race and different lifestyle choices. There are also unknown risk factors that are being studied, such as pollution and high fat diets.

However, Breast Cancer Awareness Month is not only to bring awareness to women, but also to men. About 470 men die each year from breast cancer.

“All women and men should be aware of how their bodies look and feel, and they should discuss any changes to their physicians. College-age women should consult with a medical professional to discuss breast health and they should start having clinical breast exams as soon as they are 20 years old,” Holdefer said.

Many students around campus have experienced cancer either first hand or through a friend or family member.

Obbink is involved with Colleges Against Cancer because of her grandmother.

“I lost my grandmother due to cancer. She passed away when my father was 10 years old and, because of her battle with cancer, I never was allowed the chance to meet her.”

Nathan Chizek, senior in industrial technology and co-chairman of Colleges Against Cancer-ISU chapter, is a cancer survivor. Chizek chooses to raise awareness “for my family members who have fought this terrible disease and the others that are still fighting. I do this for other students across Iowa State University who are battling right now.”

Around campus, different groups are hosting a range of events to raise awareness. Beginning Thursday, there will be a breast cancer awareness kickoff and rally south of Parks Library. At the event, you can pick up a pink ribbon, the international symbol of breast cancer awareness, to wear and show your support.

Later this month, Colleges Against Cancer and SUB will partner up to co-sponsor Bowling for Boobs at the Underground in the Memorial Union. This will be the second year for the event.

The money from the events on campus will go to benefit the American Cancer Society, which supports cancer research.

“I have also had several friends affected by the terrible disease and because of advancements in research and prevention, they are all here with me today,” Obbink said. “It’s a great feeling to know that the work I’m doing . is saving lives.”

If you or someone you know needs to talk to someone for help or support you can call 1-800-227-2345 anytime, day or night, and they’ll get a person on the line. Also you can visit