October: Breast Cancer Awareness Month
The American Cancer Society’s current estimates for breast cancer in women in the United States for 2015 are:
- About 231,840 new cases of invasive breast cancer
- About 62,290 new cases of carcinoma in situ (“CIS”, which is non-invasive and is the earliest form) of the breast will be found.
- About 40,290 deaths from breast cancer
The disease is something we’re likely all quite familiar with in one way or another.
Whether it’s because we have a friend or loved one who’s fighting it or simply because our doctor reminds us at our annual exam of the importance of doing self breast exams, it’s become a topic that many have to address on a daily basis.
And with numbers on the rise, the number of breast cancers suffered by American women will increase by about 50 percent by 2030, according to researchers from the National Cancer Institute.
I’m very fortunate to be in the category of not having had a close friend or family member who has been faced with this challenge, and as such, haven’t delved as much into this disease as I have with others.
My own personal draw happens to have been toward learning as much as I could about autoimmune conditions, specifically MS, simply because my mom has been fighting her own battle against this for the past 30 odd years (or more, if you refer to her very first symptom at age 21).
So I found myself, up until last spring, probably where most other American women find themselves in terms of how much they actually know about breast cancer, and aside from the recommendation to do self breast exams, the 1 in 9 statistic and the fact that I’d soon need to get my first mammogram (I turned 40 last year), admittedly, I didn’t know much else.
In other words, I only knew the basics.
So it came as quite a nice surprise when I was invited to speak at a Women’s Health Conference hosted by a local Chamber of Commerce, along with three top, LA-based, female physicians, that I not only learned an incredible amount about women and heart disease, women and cancer and women’s health in general as seen by the standpoint of these three experts, but that I also learned about just how incredible one of these three women is.
Dr. Kristi Funk, breast cancer surgeon, delivered the keynote speech, during which she explained breast cancer and breast health basics, as you’d expect, given her chosen field of specialty.
She addressed the audience, comprised of women of all different backgrounds, with warmth and compassion and in such a manner that everything made sense, regardless of whether one had even the most basic knowledge of human anatomy and physiology or not.
But what one might not have expected, and what I fortunately have never had to experience, is what it’s like for the patient who learns a lump has been found in her breast and what may follow.
It may be days or weeks until the next test. Insurance may or may not cover it. The facility where the next appointments are held might be far away. And the emotional stress of worrying about what if… it simply sounded like torture.
But she didn’t just leave it at that. She did something about it.
And here, you’ll see, is why I came away thinking she was so amazing.
In 2007, she founded the Pink Lotus Breast Center in 2007 with her husband and business partner Andy Funk.
A little more background from their site:
The Pink Lotus Breast Center, a comprehensive and integrative breast center exclusively dedicated to the prevention, screening, diagnosis and treatment of breast cancer was unveiled in 2009. Since then, they have become a respected leader and innovator in the field of comprehensive breast cancer care.
Everything under the same roof.
So in a single day, in the same building, a woman can be saved weeks or months of angst by having her medical testing, analysis and results all completed without having to go anywhere else.
And it gets even better.
Even though they provide red-carpet level breast care to their patients, they’re are not an organization just affordable to the wealthy; they’ve teamed up with the Pink Lotus Foundation, a nonprofit organization with a mission to help low-income women who are uninsured, underinsured or suffering from a major life event (job loss, divorce, natural disaster, death of spouse, etc). The Pink Lotus Foundation provides financial aid and enables these women to receive 100% free breast cancer screening, diagnosis, treatment and support.
Instead of focusing on finding a cure to cancer, the Pink Lotus Foundation has a clear mission to save lives today rather than in the future. Donor funds are not invested in research or self serving marketing campaigns – instead, the organization dedicates itself exclusively to helping women who are in desperate need of help today – women whose lives are at risk now.
It is actions like these, and people like Dr. Kristi Funk, which truly make impactful differences to better the state of our lives, our health and the overall state of our society.
What will you do to make your impact during this year’s Breast Cancer Awareness Month?
 “How Many Women Get Breast Cancer?” How Many Women Get Breast Cancer? American Cancer Society, n.d. Web. 30 Sept. 2015.
 “Breast Cancers Predicted to Rise by 50 Percent by 2030.” Washington Post. The Washington Post, n.d. Web. 30 Sept. 2015