MesserWoland The pink ribbon is a symbol for breast cancer awareness.
Charter Oak High School

Think pink

You don’t normally see a high school student wearing a pink tutu, pink leggings, and sparkling necklaces, unless it’s Breast Cancer Awareness Month. This month, Charter Oak High School (COHS) joined the movement to end breast cancer by wearing pink to show spirit. However, why are more younger women becoming susceptible to breast cancer, and what are the risks of a high school student developing breast cancer?

First of all, what is breast cancer?

Cancer is a broad term for a class of diseases characterized by abnormal cells that grow and invade healthy cells in the body. Breast cancer starts in the cells of the breast as a group of cancer cells that can then invade surrounding tissues or spread (metastasize) to other areas of the body, according to nationalbreastcancer.org from the National Breast Cancer Foundation, Inc.

Breast cancer is a well-known and common cancer in women but rarely in men. Breast cancer is the most common cancer among women worldwide and the second-most common cancer overall. In 2015, an estimated 231,840 cases of invasive breast cancer will be diagnosed in the U.S. alone, according to the Susan G. Komen Foundation.

Women can develop breast cancer at a younger age; however, it is very uncommon. About only 7 percent of breast cancer cases happen to women under the age of 40, but these can be even more deadly. By the time a lump in a younger woman’s breast can be felt, the cancer may be advanced. In addition, breast cancer in younger women can be aggressive and less likely to respond to treatment, according to webmd.com.

If you or someone you know is diagnosed with cancer of any kind, it is important to get treated right away. Surprisingly, extensive mammography can actually worsen health. According to an article from NBC, in the New England Journal of Medicine, one million women may have been over diagnosed by mammograms. While some sources advocate regular mammography, others advise only screening when symptoms are noticeable.

To support breast cancer patients and create awareness, COHS has been supporting the fight against breast cancer by wearing pink on spirit days and at games. Many others have also joined the fight across the world by wearing pink and attending breast cancer awareness events. Celebrities such as Sheryl Crow, Suzanne Somers, Jaclyn Smith, Melissa Etheridge, Kate Jackson, Elizabeth Edwards and Richard Rountree have also shown their support.

Both students and teachers knew cancer stories, some of triumph and some of tragedy.

Hayley Perez, sophomore, shared the story of her uncle’s successful fight with skin cancer. “He’s beaten it twice,” she said.

Mrs. Laura Roy, science teacher, shared a story of her friend in college, Amber Roderick. Roderick was 28 when she died of breast cancer. “No one deserved it less than she did,” Mrs. Roy said.

Many students have been affected by cancer; a few have been patients themselves, but many know someone with cancer.

Early awareness can save lives. For more information on breast cancer, visit http://www.webmd.com/breast-cancer/guide/breast-cancer-young-women.

–Stephanie Wang