This week, we're running a breast cancer awareness week at my college--spearheaded by my students, friends, and me--to benefit the Hope Fund at Hendrick Hospital in Abilene, Texas, to provide free mammograms to women in need. Another professor and friend, Terra Bartee, with Jacky and Alicia Andreatta, is spearheading the main campus efforts, which benefit the American Cancer Society. Yesterday, we were both at the Abilene campus together with dozens of student volunteers, working hard to raise awareness.

We've got lots of fun planned. We have informational tables, fundraising tables, two speakers lined up for today and free pizza, and a Pink-it-Out contest Thursday, where students will have to work hard to out-pink me. After all, it is day 25 of wearing pink for me!

In preparation, I tried once again to get my hair pink. :-) This time, a good friend came out to the house and helped make my pink dream a reality.

 In the process!

 Rosie's looking on.

The back.

The side.

The students will have to work 
awfully hard to out-pink me!

Does pink hair do much to raise awareness? Not in itself, but if it helps to energize the student body, get them involved and excited about working to raise money so very real, very much-in-need women can get free mammograms, it's a small price to pay for the attention my hair brings.

Breast cancer is a serious issue and one that potentially affects all of us. According to BreastCancer.Org:

  • About 1 in 8 U.S. women (just under 12%) will develop invasive breast cancer over the course of her lifetime.
  • In 2011, an estimated 230,480 new cases of invasive breast cancer were expected to be diagnosed in women in the U.S., along with 57,650 new cases of non-invasive (in situ) breast cancer.
  • About 2,140 new cases of invasive breast cancer were expected to be diagnosed in men in 2011. A man’s lifetime risk of breast cancer is about 1 in 1,000.
  • From 1999 to 2005, breast cancer incidence rates in the U.S. decreased by about 2% per year. The decrease was seen only in women aged 50 and older. One theory is that this decrease was partially due to the reduced use of hormone replacement therapy (HRT) by women after the results of a large study called the Women’s Health Initiative were published in 2002. These results suggested a connection between HRT and increased breast cancer risk.
  • About 39,520 women in the U.S. were expected to die in 2011 from breast cancer, though death rates have been decreasing since 1990 — especially in women under 50. These decreases are thought to be the result of treatment advances, earlier detection through screening, and increased awareness.
  • For women in the U.S., breast cancer death rates are higher than those for any other cancer, besides lung cancer.
  • Besides skin cancer, breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer among American women. Just under 30% of cancers in women are breast cancers. 
  • White women are slightly more likely to develop breast cancer than African-American women. However, in women under 45, breast cancer is more common in African-American women than white women. Overall, African-American women are more llkely to die of breast cancer. Asian, Hispanic, and Native-American women have a lower risk of developing and dying from breast cancer.
  • In 2011, there were more than 2.6 million breast cancer survivors in the US.
  • A woman’s risk of breast cancer approximately doubles if she has a first-degree relative (mother, sister, daughter) who has been diagnosed with breast cancer. About 15% of women who get breast cancer have a family member diagnosed with it.
  • About 5-10% of breast cancers can be linked to gene mutations (abnormal changes) inherited from one’s mother or father. Mutations of the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes are the most common. Women with these mutations have up to an 80% risk of developing breast cancer during their lifetime, and they are more likely to be diagnosed at a younger age (before menopause). An increased ovarian cancer risk is also associated with these genetic mutations.
  • In men, about 1 in 10 breast cancers are believed to be due to BRCA2 mutations, and even fewer cases to BRCA1 mutations.
  • About 85% of breast cancers occur in women who have no family history of breast cancer. These occur due to genetic mutations that happen as a result of the aging process and life in general, rather than inherited mutations.
  • The most significant risk factors for breast cancer are gender (being a woman) and age (growing older).

Make a difference and give to the cause. Whether it's your time or your money, your help matters.