Wednesday, October 1, 2008

PA Commission for Women Kicks Off Breast Cancer Awareness Month With Pink Fountain Tour

As many are aware, October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Unfortunately we have someone in our family who has been battling this disease and has been an inspiration for us all as she daily fights this dreaded disease.

Three of Pennsylvania's most notable fountains will turn pink as the Pennsylvania Commission for Women kicks-off Breast Cancer Awareness Month in honor of the women and families who have so valiantly fought the disease. The commission is coordinating the pink fountains as a reminder and as a tool to educate the public on the disease.

"Breast cancer is the leading cancer among Pennsylvania women," said Leslie Stiles, the commission's executive director. "Until we reverse that trend, we must continue to raise awareness about breast cancer; educate women about breast health; and support the women and families who are living with a breast cancer diagnosis."

The three fountain events held in advance of October's Breast Cancer Awareness Month will feature remarks from Pennsylvanians whose lives have been touched by breast cancer. The fountain outside of the Capitol's East Wing in Harrisburg was the first to turn pink this week on Monday.

Yesterday, the Point State Park fountain in Pittsburgh (pictured above) and the Perry Square fountain in Erie turned pink at 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., respectively.

"The pink fountains inspire deeply emotional reactions," said Stiles. "These events are opportunities to communicate new treatment options, to talk about the value of early detection and, most importantly, to remind people there is hope. There are still women who we need to reach -- women who must be reminded to get that annual mammogram and to do their monthly breast self exam."

Tips on how to reduce the risk of breast cancer include maintaining a healthy weight, exercising regularly, knowing family history, understanding the risks and benefits of hormone replacement therapy, limiting alcohol intake, and getting regular breast cancer screening whether through monthly self examinations or an annual mammogram.

Signs that a woman -- or a man -- may have breast cancer include a new lump, swelling, pain, irritation of the breast skin or nipple area, change in size or shape, or a nipple discharge other than milk. The Pennsylvania Commission for Women's mission is to identify and advance the diverse needs and interests of the state's women and girls; to inform, educate and advocate for its constituents; and to provide opportunities to empower women and girls to reach their highest potential.

I had the opportunity to see the fountain today while in Pittsburgh. It was both moving and touching, knowing what it symbolized and was so nice to see so many employees in the city wearing a pink ribbon.

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