Updated: Nov 4, 2020
Everyone who has been in St. Francis for more than one year is now familiar with that one day in October where you pay a fee and get to come dressed in pink for the day, our annual Pinktober. But do you actually know why we hold this event every year, and what the Pinktober movement represent?
As of October, the most famous buildings and monuments all around the world light up in various shades of pink. The Cristo Redentor, The Eiffel Tower, Burj Al Arab, The Leaning Tower of Pisa and The White House are only a few examples of buildings that take part in this movement. Countries, companies, and people united to represent one cause, Breast Cancer Awareness Month, or BCAM. Created in 1985 by the ACS ( American Cancer Society), the Breast Cancer awareness month and its pink ribbons have become synonyms of October.
Pinktober represents and celebrates the strength of all patients of this disease, and a chance to shine a light and educate people on the realities of breast cancer. As soon as the campaign begins, the number of appoints for mammograms and appointments for breast lumps found upon self-exam increase by the thousands. Patients who have been putting off these appointments but now have the media and the community, in general, reminding them of the importance of early diagnosis and a yearly check-up are more likely to schedule these examinations.
Pinktober is also a very positive thing in terms of donations to researchers that help to fund trials and research on chemotherapy and other treatments, amongst with more support to other solidary NGO`s and campaigns who work directly with patients and try to help alleviate some of the pain and stress during the treatment or even final stages of the disease, or that help financing the treatment, in the case of low-income patients.
While I truly believe that it's very personal how we survivors and warriors feel about Pinktober, this much is true: With every ribbon, every balloon, every slogan, I remind myself how lucky I am to be here still fighting, mouthing off and kicking a**. I will wear the “pink badge of honor” every day this month as I have for the past seven years.
—Jennifer Pellechio-Lukowiak, breast cancer survivor and author of “Does This Outfit Make Me Look Bald”
Being the most commonly occurring cancer in women, approximately 1 in 8 women (about 12%) will develop breast cancer over their lifetime. And in 2019 alone, unfortunately about 41,760 women in the U.S. only are expected to die from breast cancer. Surviving this extensive, painful, tiring and expensive journey, continuing hopeful thought the entire process and being able to turn your life around after everything they’ve been through is a task for champions only. That is why the St. Francis Post would like to take this time to honor the lives and histories of some of the strongest women in the world, the women that beat breast cancer, with their touching testimonies.
A few days before Christmas 2018, I noticed my nipple was inverted. I knew that wasn't good. My doctor saw me that day, said, "It looks suspicious..." and I was diagnosed with Stage 3-B breast cancer a few days later. I had a mastectomy in January 2019, followed by several 6-hour rounds of chemo, then 33 sessions of radiation before work every morning. I only missed 11 days of work, total. I had finished treatment, my hair was starting to grow back and our family was celebrating my Survivorship and how good I was feeling. To say it was the worst year of my life is really an understatement. Today, I have just celebrated my 10-year Survivor Anniversary. I am doing well. Life is better. Some days are wonderful. Some days are sad. I have been one of the top fundraisers for Susan G. Komen in Northern Nevada. I was on the Legislative Committee to get the Nevada Breast Cancer License Plate passed.
After 11 months of treatment and already sure of the positive prognosis, Daniela decided to turn her story into the television series Diário de um câncer, offered for free over the internet. The videos air every Thursday during the Pinktober. With her project, Daniella allowed herself to open to the world, exposing mishaps the disease without fear. “Despite living on my TV image, I am (was?) A reserved person, those who do not even tell the mother about domestic problems. With my show, I surrendered spontaneously to the world and I am surprised at the result. In return, I have received a feeling of gratitude at the same or even greater frequency than the one I sent, ”says the presenter, who is being watched by about 3,000 people on the Internet. On her youtube channel, she has become a spokesperson and symbol for the fight against breast cancer in Brazil, as well as living her best life. She is also a published writer, with her book that tells the story of her journey with breast cancer, " Amanhã Hoje é ontem: uma homenagem a vida"
The young model Gi Charaba world’s crumbled when at 30, she found out she had breast cancer, after realizing she had a lump in her breasts. She, who had no health insurance at the time, and was successfully treated by the Sirio Libanes Hospital in 2016. The tumor had reached the size of 5 cm and, thankfully, Gi was able to perform countless other medical investigations, which identified that she was already suffering from bone metastasis, and all this because the tumor had been developing for 2 years.
As a patient, Gi underwent her first session of chemotherapy, she said, which was very traumatic, 4 months of treatment, and a total of 12 sessions, held at the renowned Cancer Institute of Sao Paulo. Side effects were not delayed and the model, after 14 days of the first session, lost tufts and more tufts of hair, finally choosing to shave her head and use a hair prosthesis, which was glued to the head.
After undergoing a complicated surgery that took exactly 11 hours to perform, 78% of the sternum bone was removed through a chest incision; the armpit was also emptied; Nine lymph nodes were torn from the region and the back's muscles were rotated so that she could rebuild her breast.
With 33,700 followers on her Instagram social network, Gi Charaba has turned the situation into something positive, the model provides tips for people who, like her, go through a similar situation with cancer, becoming a very active spokesperson for the disease, providing a space for discussion and enlightenment about the hardships and importance of early diagnosis of breast cancer.
By: Maria Heloisa Scanavini