During her lifetime, a woman living in the United States has about a 1-in-8 probability of being diagnosed with breast cancer. Bringing it closer to home, the annual average of new breast cancer incidences reported in the state of Tennessee was 4,898 between the years of 2011 and 2015, according to the National Institute of Health. During this same time frame, an annual average of 1,442 occurrences was reported in Middle Tennessee.
What’s commonly forgotten about a statistic is the person behind each number—until the person becomes you or someone you know.
October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, which was started to educate and empower women to “take charge of their breast health.” But for the 3.1 million breast cancer survivors in the US, breast cancer is not just on the mind for one month.
Even after completing treatment, every day is a reminder of the disease. Side effects of treatment can be lifelong. Survivors are left with physical and emotional scars; the body undergoes external and internal changes which can lead to body image struggles, and relationships are affected.
Most awareness surrounding this month involves promoting action for early detection through breast cancer screening, which is critical. However, it’s also critical to bring awareness to the need to support survivors.
For survivors by survivors
The YMCA of Middle Tennessee offers a unique opportunity for survivors to find support through its After Breast Cancer (ABC) Program. This free, 16-week program was created for survivors by survivors to provide healing for the body, mind and spirit after a breast cancer diagnosis.
Affiliated with eight YMCA centers across Middle Tennessee, the ABC Program provides survivors the opportunity to exercise with a Pink-Ribbon certified personal trainer, receive nutrition education from a registered dietitian, be informed on lymphedema risk and prevention, and be emotionally supported through a curriculum-based small group titled “Journey to Wholeness.” In groups of four to eight, participants build relationships with fellow survivors and share their story with those who can personally understand the journey.
Show your support
In correlation with Breast Cancer Awareness Month, we are offering various events that provide opportunities for our community to show their support.
The ABC program at the Green Hills Y is co-hosting "Charmed by Charity" at The Mall at Green Hills. From 6:30 pm to 9:00 pm on October 8, purchases made at the Alex and Ani store will directly benefit breast cancer survivors in Middle Tennessee, with 15% of the event sales being donated back to the ABC program.
The ABC program at the Clarksville Y presents the 8th Annual Tickle Me Pink luncheon on Thursday, October 18 at the Wilma Rudolph Events Center. The doors will open at 11:00 a.m. for shopping with amazing local vendors, and lunch begins at noon.
In Robertson County, the ABC luncheon is taking place at Highland Crest Campus on Friday, October 19 at 11:30 a.m. In its third year, this luncheon celebrates breast cancer survivors while raising awareness of the ABC program. The event is free and open to the community, but reservations are required.
The Murfreesboro Heroes in Heels Fashion Show on Monday, October 22 will have over 25 breast cancer survivors taking to the runway to celebrate survival and increase awareness for the After Breast Cancer program that is part of the YMCA Murfreesboro Community Program.
The Maryland Farms Y hosts their Heroes and Heels Fashion Show on Tuesday, October 23 at The Factory in Franklin. ABC participants will walk the runway, share their breast cancer journeys, and give back to a program that has provided them support.
The Newcomers & Community Club of Sumner County presents Garlands and Glitter. This evening of fashion and entertainment is scheduled for Saturday, November 3, from 6:00 to 10:30 p.m. at the Bluegrass Yacht and Country Club. Proceeds will benefit the Sumner County Y's ABC program.
Lastly, on Thursday, November 8 the Bellevue Y presents the Pink Ribbon Round Up. This annual dinner features a silent auction and concert featuring Anita Cochran (with her all-star female band, Chicks Under Cover) and Amber Leigh and Red Marlow (from NBC’s "The Voice").
Thriving in community
Breast cancer is a personal matter—even if you’ve never been diagnosed—when nearly 1,500 women are newly impacted in our community every year. If you know someone who has been affected by breast cancer, recognize that even if she is done with treatment, her journey is ongoing.
If you’re a survivor, remember that you are not alone. You’re invited to come find strength at the After Breast Cancer program. Surviving breast cancer is one battle, but thriving after breast cancer and not being endlessly identified by “breast cancer” is another.Find an ABC program at a Y location near you.