BIG CYPRESS — A pink fire hydrant in Big Cypress helped mark Breast Cancer Awareness Month on Tribe land in October. Other members of the community showed their support by pulling pink clothes out of their closets Oct. 23 for Pink Out Day at the Frank Billie Field Office in Big Cypress.
Community outreach coordinator Edna McDuffie and health educator Jamie Diersing assembled tables filled with information about breast cancer, stickers to promote awareness and prosthetic breasts to teach individuals how to search for lumps.
“It’s a good reminder for people to be aware of breast health,” Diersing said. “They (prosthetic breasts) each have five lumps, but there are some that cannot be felt, which is why you need to get a mammogram every year.”
Early detection is crucial to surviving breast cancer, the second most common cancer in women after skin cancer. Native American women have the lowest incidence based on race and ethnicity, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. White women have the highest rate of breast cancer followed by black, Hispanic, Asian/Pacific Islander and American Indian/Alaska Native women.
However, mortality rates vary depending on location. Those in Alaska and the Southern Plains have the highest mortality rates, while those in the Southwest have the lowest, according to the Susan G. Komen organization.
On Oct. 20, the American Cancer Society announced new breast cancer screening guidelines, which recommend women at average risk for breast cancer get their first mammogram at 45 instead of 40. The guidelines also state that women should have the option to begin screenings earlier.
Those at a higher risk should consult their physicians about when and how often to undergo breast screening. Women at high risk include those who have been diagnosed with breast cancer in the past, have a BRCA gene mutation, family history of breast cancer or a history of chest radiation as a child or young adult.
To provide easy access to screenings, the Radiology Regional Center mobile mammogram truck stopped in Big Cypress on Oct. 28 and will trek to Brighton Dec. 8. To make an appointment, contact the Health Department.
The Tribe also marked breast cancer awareness with color runs in Immokalee, Big Cypress, Brighton and Hollywood. Tampa residents joined more than 200 Hard Rock employees at the Making Strides for Breast Cancer Walk on Oct. 24.