I love the month of October – when the leaves start to change, the air becomes crisp, and everywhere you look you see the color PINK?
Nowadays, in October the color pink has become as ubiquitous as pumpkin spice lattes and candy corn. It’s a lot of fun to see football players donning pink sleeves, gloves, and socks. And I am always tempted to purchase every scarf, pin, coffee mug and t-shirt for the cause that I see advertised during Breast Cancer Awareness month.
When I walked in the Avon Two-Day Walk for breast cancer, I enjoyed all the irreverent costumes inspired by the event. I saw slogans like “Save the TA TAs” and people sporting pink bras over their t-shirts. Motorcyclists who volunteered to help could be seen at busy intersections wearing pink kerchiefs and lounging next to the giant bras strapped to the backs of their Harleys.
One of my favorite t-shirts read “Real Men Wear Pink.” And it makes sense that men would support the women in their lives who are fighting this terrible disease. However, with all the focus on women and bras, one fact gets short shrift. Men can get breast cancer too.
To be sure, breast cancer is a lot less common in men than in women. The American Cancer Society estimates that about 1 in 1,000 men will get breast cancer in their lifetimes. Yet men are more often diagnosed at an advanced stage because they are less likely to see a doctor if they notice a lump or other change in the breast area.
Men need to be aware of the same symptoms that women do when it comes to early detection of breast cancer: a lump or swelling in the breast tissue, changes, redness or discharge in the nipple, and skin puckering around the breast area.
With all the emphasis on pink and girliness, it must be hard for men with the disease to find comfort and support when they receive a diagnosis of breast cancer. That is why I am so encouraged by the “Real men wear pink” perspective on breast cancer.
I hope it causes men to relate to breast cancer as a potential threat and get the early intervention that may save their lives.