It’s been a quarter of a century since America designated October as National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Pink ribbons, rallies of support, and awareness and education activities continue to make inroads into general awareness of breast cancer.
But an understanding of the issues and concerns that today’s breast cancer organizations face remains critical, according to two major Long Island service organizations.
Ask Lyn Dobrin, of the Adelphi NY Statewide Breast Cancer Hotline -- an organization which has provided a hotline for the entire state for decades, making sure that people understand the importance of getting the right diagnosis and have access to advice on how to deal with the fear of cancer.
“Over 32 years of providing hotline service, awareness has increased tremendously, but the fear is still there,“ said Dobrin. “When people call us up they’re scared. But the fact that they’ve called is a good start. We help them to think through the process.”
That includes practical advice. Like bringing someone with you to the doctor’s consultation, or taking notes, or getting a second opinion.
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“We also have a matching program,” said Dobrin. “If someone is supposed to have a particular treatment, for example a double mastectomy, we connect them with someone who has gone through that experience. It helps people to think clearly, to calm down, and to realize that breast cancer is not necessarily a death sentence.”
Marcie Rosenberg of Great Neck, diagnosed in 2007, agrees. She became a hotline volunteer because “I feel it is important for women to have the opportunity to relate to someone who had a similar experience,” says Marcie Rosenberg, who was diagnosed in 2007 and has since become a hotline volunteer because she hoped she had something she could offer callers.
Meanwhile Karen Miller of the Huntington Breast Cancer Action Coalition (HBCAC) says her organization is increasingly working to ‘go from pink to green,’ fighting the environmental conditions which increase the risk of cancer.
“Fifteen years ago we began to understand that prevention is the cure,” said Miller. “You need to support impacted individuals and families, but we cannot only be reactive. We need to change the landscape. We have to take responsibility to reduce the risk so as not to put our children on the conveyor belt in the first place.”
One way HBCAC has worked to do that, said Miller, was its successful 2009 effort to get a ban on Bisphenol-A BPA in Suffolk County, so people don’t come in contact with this particular endocrine-disrupting chemical in cash register receipts, baby bottles etc.
More recently, HBCAC has begun working on a multimillion dollar project with the NIEHS on a ‘windows of susceptibility’ project that looks at dose and time of exposure as factors in risk, both for children and adults and during the development of the fetus.
For information on HBCAC visit http://www.hbcac.org/. For information on Adelphi’s breast cancer hotline program, visit Adelphi.edu/nysbreastcancer or call 800 877 8077.