Everyone could get involved this October, writes Mary Allison
October marks an exciting month of firsts. This is the first Breast Cancer Awareness Month for Breast Cancer Now, the newest and largest breast cancer charity working in Scotland - and my first as the charity’s new Director for Scotland.
For me, Breast Cancer Awareness Month is our time to come together and focus on the work we can all do to tackle the devastation caused by this disease. Breast cancer is the most common cancer in the UK and one in eight women will be affected in their lifetime.
This year in Scotland more than 4,600 women will be given the terrible news that they have breast cancer. Even more devastating is the fact that 1,000 women in Scotland will lose their lives to it. I am sure that every reader knows a loved one, friend or colleague who has been affected by breast cancer and knows the uncertainly, fear and sadness that a diagnosis brings.
At Breast Cancer Now we are absolutely committed to changing this and to date we’ve made great progress in being able to prevent, detect and treat breast cancer. Our research is focused entirely on breast cancer. We know how to reduce the risk of getting breast cancer. We know how to detect breast cancer and that detecting it early gives women the best chance of survival. We have also revolutionised the treatment of breast cancer through the discovery of targeted drugs with fewer side effects as well as improved surgery and radiotherapy options.
But our work is far from done. Although more women are surviving breast cancer, more women are being diagnosed than ever before. And at Breast Cancer Now we refuse to ignore secondary breast cancer (where the disease spreads to other part of the body). For those women with secondary breast cancer, access to drugs can be unclear and uncertain.
Research holds the key to a world where everyone who develops breast cancer lives. In Scotland alone, Breast Cancer Now invests £1.6 million in research, funding nine vital research projects across the country. Teams of scientists in Dundee, Edinburgh and Glasgow are carrying out research to develop new treatments, to improve existing ones and to understand more about how this devastating disease works and can be tackled.
Last month Breast Cancer Now hosted an event where MSPs met scientists, campaigners, and women affected by breast cancer to share their joint commitment to tackling the disease.
October marks the start of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, during which our wear it pink event, the UK’s biggest pink fundraiser, will call on supporters across the country to wear something pink, have fun and raise money for Breast Cancer Now’s life-saving research. Wear it pink raises more than £2m each year for world-class research into breast cancer, and this year it’s bigger, brighter and bolder than ever. Everyone across Scotland can take part. All you have to do is wear something pink and donate whatever you can.
It’s fantastic that breast cancer is given the spotlight throughout October, but to maintain the momentum of our scientific discoveries, and to ensure that we achieve our aim of stopping women dying of breast cancer, Breast Cancer Now needs to invest at least £300m in research over the next ten years. That means we need your interest, support and awareness all year round.
Please pledge your support now to join us in doing whatever it takes to create a future where breast cancer is no longer feared. Together we can make a difference – together we will stop Scottish women dying from breast cancer by 2050.
• Mary Allison, director for Scotland, Breast Cancer Now www.breastcancernow.org