The Daily Tar Heel

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Monday December 5th

NC organizations recognize Breast Cancer Awareness Month

In honor of Breast Cancer Awareness month, pink flowers are displayed in the front yard of a home on East Franklin Street on Tuesday, Oct. 4, 2022.
Buy Photos In honor of Breast Cancer Awareness month, pink flowers are displayed in the front yard of a home on East Franklin Street on Tuesday, Oct. 4, 2022.

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, a time dedicated to raising funds to support breast cancer patients and having conversations about the disease.

More than 6,000 women in North Carolina are diagnosed with breast cancer each year, and more than 1,000 will die from the disease. North Carolinian women have a 1 in 8 lifetime risk of developing breast cancer.

Black women are especially impacted by breast cancer. One in 5 black women with breast cancer develop triple-negative breast cancer, an especially aggressive version of the disease. At every age, Black women are more likely to die from breast cancer than any other demographic group. 

Becky Horn is the executive director of the Pretty in Pink Foundation, an organization in North Carolina that helps fund treatments for uninsured and underinsured breast cancer patients. 

She said patients who do not have health insurance or can’t pay insurance deductibles have few options when facing a breast cancer diagnosis. 

“When this type of diagnosis happens, it is an unexpected, horrendous financial burden,” she said. 

Last year, the Pretty in Pink Foundation was able to fund treatment for 349 people in North Carolina, and this year they are on track to help 400 people, Horn said. She added that the Pretty in Pink Foundation does not receive any funding from the state or federal government — all of its money comes from donations. 

Horn said breast cancer awareness is important because early detection is critical for survival. 

“This is a time to remind people that 1 in 8 of us in North Carolina will likely receive a breast cancer diagnosis in our lifetime,” she said. 

Dr. Lisa Carey is an oncologist and breast cancer researcher at UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center. She said it is important to set aside time during the year to focus on breast cancer, as there are over 250,000 cases each year in the U.S. alone. While the survival rate has increased, she said it can still be a deadly diagnosis.

Carey added that dedicating a specific month to breast cancer awareness provides a time for people to come together as a community. She said the specific month allows survivors, people affected by the disease or larger foundations to share stories or highlight the work they are doing. 

On a local level, Carey said the healthcare system having a strong partnership with the community of Chapel Hill could provide patients with more support in terms of paying for care, getting to appointments and managing the other effects of cancer diagnoses. 

“It would be a mistake to ignore the impact of cancer, not just on the patient when they’re in the hospital, but the ripple effect,” she said. 

Carey said helping patients pay for care is an important solution, but she would like to see a more systemic solution regarding the cost of treatment. She said healthcare overall is more difficult for underprivileged people to access – an issue that must be acknowledged and improved on a community level. 

Taylor Zimmerman, the assistant director for annual giving at UNC Lineberger, said Chapel Hill and North Carolina citizens can help by donating to or sharing information about Power of Pink, a UNC Lineberger fundraiser that runs until the end of October. The money raised will go toward breast cancer research, Zimmerman said. 

"Our goal is $100,000 for the month of October," she said. 

She said one supporter of UNC Lineberger has already committed to matching each donation up to $50,000.

Zimmerman also said aside from donating, residents can help by spreading awareness about the fundraiser on social media or with friends and family. In addition, people can get involved by creating their own fundraising pages to share their stories.

Community members can donate to Power of Pink here or learn more on its website.

@fanning_sophia

@DTHCityState | city@dailytarheel.com

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