October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month

 Marcia Civils and Monica Blackwell are both breast cancer survivors who volunteer and raise money for “It’s a Breast Thing.”

LANSING, MI —   Breast cancer survivor, Monica Blackwell, teamed up with “It’s A Breast Thing”  (IBT) by modeling one of the 30 decorated bras to raise grant money for breast cancer patients who cannot afford treatment.

This year was IBT’s 10th anniversary and they celebrated with a Cocktail Party Fundraiser.  The decorated bras that were auctioned off were modeled by former calendar models.  This was Blackwell’s second year modeling.

Blackwell said, “This is a great opportunity to give back and support other breast cancer patients who are going through one of the toughest times in their lives.” 

Each year in the U.S., about 220,000 cases of breast cancer are diagnosed in women and about 2,000 cases are diagnosed in men; the disease kills about 40,000 women and 400 men annually in the U.S., the CDC  says.

At 36-years-old, Blackwell was diagnosed with a very rare aggressive form of breast cancer called Inflammatory Breast Cancer (IBC). According to the National Cancer Institute, IBC accounts for 1 to 5 percent of all breast cancers diagnosed in the United States.

In 2002, not much was known about IBC. Blackwell said that she had a pain and her right breast that was 'unusual' to her. She made an appointment with her physician.

Fifteen years later, Blackwell is doing everything she can to inform and educate others about breast cancer and what to look for.  She said, “I was experiencing unsual pain and was sent to have a mammography.  Over the years I have learned that other signs include nipple retraction, discoloration, or a mass or lump in the breast, which is the most obvious.  I suggest that women(follow the recommended regimen of doing a self breast exam at least once a month) do breast daily.”

Early detection is critical and finding out that you have breast cancer is overwhelming which could be even more stressful if you do not have adequate insurance or the resources to pay for treatment.  That is where IBT steps in.

In 2008, IBT began raising money to help cancer patients.  Their October event is fun and educational and the decorated bras at submitted by both businesses and individuals to be voted on as a featured bra in the yearly “It’s a Breast Thing” calendar.  The models in the calendar are local breast cancer survivors.  The bras are also auctioned off.  

To date over 140 grants have been awarded to breast cancer survivors.  If you know someone in need of financial assistance with the challenges of treating breast cancer, IBT may be able to help.  Log on to www.itsabreastthing.org to read more about the assistance program.  Applications are available online.

This was printed in the October 15 – October 28, 2017 edition.