October brings awareness, prevention


Ryann Daugherty

October is breast cancer awareness month. Community members who have been affected by breast cancer want to promote early screenings.

Pink streamers and balloons cover the main gym of the high school as students file in for the annual pink out pep rally. Each year, the high school host a pink out pep rally in order to highlight breast cancer awareness month and support those who have been diagnosed or have a loved one who has been diagnosed. 

“When one of my friend’s mom was diagnosed with breast cancer, I was shocked,” HOSA President Samatha Belataur said. “This news not only made this disease feel more real, but it also showed me how easy it is for someone’s life to be turned upside down. ”

As medicine continues to advance, genetic testing has allowed some people, such as art teacher Amanda Beller, to take preventative measures against cancer. 

“I had already had the blood drawn so they sent it off and the results came back with a gene that was only uncovered in the mid-2010s,” Beller said. “It came back with a 45-65% chance of breast cancer and I was like, ‘That is too much for me, I’m not playing those odds.’ They gave me different options, but I went with the most intense option which was a double mastectomy with reconstruction.”

Previvor is a term used to describe those who have an increased genetic risk for cancer and have learned about it through genetic counseling. 

“There are 20 different genes that can cause cancer risk all the way from 20% increase to 90% increase,” Beller said. “My pathology results showed that I had two different types of pre-cancer. If I had waited for those to develop into cancer, I wouldn’t have as many options. I would be facing chemo, radiation and surgery.” 

According to the American Cancer Society, around 287,850 women will be diagnosed with some form of breast cancer this year along with around 2,170 men. Due to the high number of cases, the ACS encourages preventative care. 

Breast cancer is sometimes found after symptoms appear, but many women with breast cancer have no symptoms,” the American Cancer Society said. “This is why regular breast cancer screening is so important.”

In addition to the Pink Out Pep Rally, the Health Occupations Students of America (HOSA) organization at the school will be discussing other ways to increase awareness.

As the president of HOSA, I try to provide resources for our members to gain more knowledge about the healthcare field as well as spread awareness about important topics, such as breast cancer,” Belataur said. “During this month, we will be posting articles and videos on breast cancer, and spending time during the meeting discussing this topic.”

Though it is not a topic that is often talked about, Beller has been sharing her experience with genetic testing and her surgeries on social media. 

“Just being able to have the conversations is important,” Beller said. “I know of four women who after seeing that have gone and gotten tested for different gene mutations. If it helps someone else have more years with their family, why not?”