LAUGHLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Texas --
According to the National Breast Cancer Foundation, one in eight women in the United States will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime. It is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in women, and the second leading cause of cancer death among women.
October, for both the foundation and Laughlin Air Force Base, is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and Laughlin’s Airmen reflect on the month and what messages hit home.
The messages and stories of survival, according to Col. Michelle Pryor, 47th Flying Training Wing vice commander, are not just words but calls to action to support those formerly or currently enduring the hardships of breast cancer.
“Every day, someone is either diagnosed, told they’re in remission, or sadly, are laid to rest after putting up a remarkable fight,” Pryor said. “Regardless of where a loved one falls in those stages, we must take a moment to remember the importance of never giving up hope. We must always unite to support not only cancer research, but each other.”
Lt. Col. Patricia Dalton, 47th Medical Operations Squadron commander and two-year breast cancer survivor, says the most important messages to her are early detection and sharing one’s experience with others.
“It’s fighting to the end, and not letting the cancer win,” said Dalton. “I know I’m not the only one in the military that has breast cancer -- there’s other people out there. And that’s why I [spoke at] the event, because people need to know that not only civilians get breast cancer – people in the military get breast cancer as well, [and] there’s tons of survivors.”
The month was highlighted in the Locks of Love luncheon, led by Ray Torres, 47th Medical Operations Squadron health promotion coordinator. The event, which highlighted the importance of awareness and community involvement, featured two volunteers who donated their hair to breast cancer research and featured Dalton, who shared her story of strength and perseverance with the luncheon attendees.
“Every year, Laughlin holds an annual breast cancer awareness luncheon to provide support and information that helps people be more proactive, rather than reactive,” said Torres. “It is so important for people to be aware. Early detection is the best detection.”
As the month came to a close, according to Pryor, the awareness still continues and she stresses how important it is not only be aware, but to encourage, support, and remember those who have fought, will fight, or have been laid to rest due to breast cancer.