Kendra Park with her mother, breast cancer survivor, Lana Riffle. Submitted photo.

October Breast Cancer Awareness Month

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Breast cancer is the most common form of cancer among women aside from various types of skin cancer. According to the American Cancer Society, there are currently 3.8 million breast cancer survivors in the United States. Kendra Park knows one of those survivors well. 

“My mom, Lana Riffle, was diagnosed with stage 2 breast cancer when she was 48-years-old,” Park said. “She found the lump with a self-assessment due to some pain she was having, followed by a mammogram and biopsy.” 

Park said her mom had the choice of having a lumpectomy done, but she chose a bilateral mastectomy. After her mom’s pathology report came back, her care team recommended doing a longer-term oral treatment versus chemotherapy. As part of her treatment, her mom was a clinical trial participant to help treat her breast cancer.

Breast cancer awareness month is strongly associated with the color pink. Park shared that this time of year is special for the entire family because, thanks to treatments and care, her mom is still with them and “Think Pink” is now a phrase with much more meaning for her and her loved ones. 

“We celebrate my mom being a cancer survivor every year and are beyond grateful to have her with us,” Park said. “My mom said she always viewed pink as a soft girly color, but now sees it as a symbol of strength. Fighting this fight is not easy physically, mentally or emotionally.”

There is no way to prevent breast cancer; there are ways you can lower the risk. The American Cancer Society lists the following as some ways to keep your body healthy and prevent your risk:

  • Maintain a healthy weight.
  • Be physically active.
  • Stay up to date with screenings.
  • If there is a family history of breast cancer, consider genetic testing.
  • Talk with your doctor regularly about your health.

“My sister and I have had genetic testing done and do mammograms every 6 months,” Park said. “My mom had a conversation with a fellow cancer survivor, and her advice was to catch cancer before it catches you. I believe that saved her life and could save others.”

Information provided by Holzer Health System.