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The Student News Site of Millard West High School

The Catalyst

The Student News Site of Millard West High School

The Catalyst

The Student News Site of Millard West High School

The Catalyst

The survivors

Importance of breast cancer awareness
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Sophia Eljamal
The start to making people more aware of breast cancer is by letting people know information about it, such as how the cancer occurs, the stages, the mental toll, and the treatments.

Everyone always has something going on and everyone handles it differently. Receiving the news that someone you know has cancer is not something that anyone or their family should have to handle. The awareness of certain cancers is not as common as others, even though they could be equally damaging. 

Breast cancer is a disease where the breast cells grow out of control. It is the most common cancer in women in the United States and the leading cause of cancer death in Hispanic women. Almost everyone I know who has gotten the news that they have cancer is Hispanic. Every cancer has different symptoms and some people do not have any symptoms. Breast cancer in men is not as common but it can still happen. About 2,790 men will be diagnosed with breast cancer and 530 men will die from it in 2024. Less than one percent of men in the United States are diagnosed with breast cancer. 

In 2024, 310,720 women are predicted to have cancer. If caught in earlier stages, the survival rate is 99%. Currently, there are four million breast cancer survivors in the United States. On average, every two minutes, a woman is diagnosed with breast cancer. Half of the women who are diagnosed are age 62 or younger. If you are younger than 35 and diagnosed with breast cancer, the rate of recurrence is much higher. That is 310,720 too many women. This is not just news someone can get over, this is something that will stick with them for the rest of their life. 

There are currently 14 different types of breast cancers, with an average survival rate of 90%. The survival rates differ based on the SEER stage. If the cancer is localized, meaning it is within the breast, the survival rate is 99%. If the cancer is regional, where the cancer is spread to nearby structures like lymph nodes, the rate is 86%. If the cancer is distant, such as cancer that has spread to other organs like the lungs or liver, the survival rate is 31%. 66% of women diagnosed with breast cancer are diagnosed when it is localized. 

There are many different treatments for breast cancer. A surgery can be done to remove the cancer, such as a lumpectomy, which removes the cancer leaving some of the breast, or a mastectomy, removing the whole breast. Mastectomies can be safer in cases where you are scared that cancer will spread from one breast to the other. For someone close to me, they decided to get a mastectomy, which ended up working in their favor when the tumors taken out were studied and the realization was made that the cancer had spread. Chemotherapy is another option, which shrinks your cells and kills the cancer cells, although good cells are killed in this process because chemo drugs can’t tell the difference between cancer cells and good cells. 

These are some common treatments but mastectomies and lumpectomies tend to have huge mental tolls and can lead to body esteem issues. Even though one can get implants, many feel as if they lost a part of being a woman and that they no longer are fully themselves. 

Hormone therapy, hyperthermia, immunotherapy, photodynamic therapy, radiation therapy and stem cell transplant are other types of treatment for cancer. Hormone therapy stops the growth of hormones that cause cancers to grow. Hyperthermia uses heat to help damage and kill cancer cells with little to no harm to tissue. Immunotherapy helps your immune system fight cancer. Photodynamic therapy uses a light-activated drug to kill cancer. Radiation therapy uses high doses of radiation to kill cancer and shrink tumors and stem cell transplant restores cells that grow into blood cells that have had them destroyed by radiation/chemotherapy. 

Getting the news that you are diagnosed with something that you’ve only heard of people getting but never thought you would get yourself is such a feeling of shock. Thinking about what treatment you can get, if it will reoccur, attempting to stay strong for your family and many other thoughts can change a person in the process. Although many women are diagnosed with cancer, it can feel like you are alone at times and that no one understands. 

People can get so anxious to the point where they do not sleep at night and it overtakes their life. Cancer is overwhelming and is not something anyone should go through on their own. Hospitals offer support groups and therapists for cancer endurers and survivors but sometimes, therapy can not even help a person because it is so overwhelming. The rate of depression is three times higher in women who have cancer. Those with cancer who end up getting mental health treatment are more likely to survive than those who don’t. 

The sentence “you have cancer” can alter everything about a person’s life. You never think someone you know will get it until they do and it changes everything, some changes are good, while some are not. For the most part, that is someone’s grandma, daughter, mom, aunt or niece. Although there is no cure, doctors are finding every way they can to make this disease as bearable as possible. The awareness of this cancer should be more widespread to try and just reach the tip of understanding what many others in the world are going through. 

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About the Contributor
Sophia Eljamal, Staff Reporter
Sophia is a junior at Millard West and this is her first year on the staff for the CATalyst. She likes traveling around the world and running. Over the summer, she traveled to numerous countries in Europe. In her free time, she enjoys going shopping, hanging out with her friends, and listening to music. She also loves to work and watch her favorite shows and movies on Netflix. Sophia looks forward to writing stories about sports and working with her classmates to produce interesting stories.

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