While breast cancer rates have been stable overall in recent years, they have increased slightly in African American women. In order to get the message out about early detection, Thornton Township sponsored a “Get Your Pink On” Breast Cancer awareness event attended by more than 500 people, mostly dressed in some type of pink. Using the backdrop of the final regular season football game featuring Thornwood vs. Thornridge High Schools, the township organized interactive photo shoots, giveaways and motivational signs about breast cancer awareness.
“We understand how important of an issue this is not only in October but all year around,” said Frank M. Zuccarelli, Thornton Township supervisor.
Breast cancer is the most common cancer among American women, except for skin cancers. About one in 8 or (12%) of women in the U.S. will develop invasive breast cancer during their lifetime. This year alone, about 246,660 new cases of invasive breast cancer will be diagnosed in women and about 40,450 women will die from breast cancer, per the American Cancer Society.
Breast cancer starts when cells in the breast begin to grow out of control. These cells usually form a tumor that can often be seen on an X-ray or felt as a lump. After increasing for more than 20 years, breast cancer incidence rates in women began decreasing in 2000. But in recent years while incidence rates have been stable in white women, they have increased slightly in African American women. Breast cancer remains the second leading cause of cancer death in women with only lung cancer kills more women each year.
Thornridge and Thornwood students from District #205 volunteered with Thornton Township officials to educate people about breast cancer and post photos on social media with inspirational words.
“It’s very important to spread breast cancer awareness because it is a disease taking loved ones away and causing people to suffer,” said Zaire Jordan, 15, a junior at Thornwood. “I’m glad so many fundraisers and events are being created because I think it helps when people know that we care about them and that they are not standing alone.”
Zuccarelli believes the key to sustaining good health is preventative programs because early detection saves lives. In an effort to keep the community healthy over- all, Thornton Township offers blood pressure, cholesterol and glucose screenings as well as light to moderate aerobic workouts by a certified instructor every weekday.
“We want people to get these regular screenings and make sure they are healthy overall. We don’t want you to just wait for something to happen before you check your health,” he added.
The largest township in Illinois, Thornton Township is made up of all or part of 17 south suburban communities.