Gary John of Eagle 97.7 said that the radio station wanted to do something unique to bring attention to the need for early detection and prevention of breast cancer during the month of October. They had just completed their annual fund raiser for A.I. duPont Hospital, so they didn’t want to ask viewers to donate money so soon after that event.
“One day, Petch and Amy on the morning show were talking about doing something fun for breast cancer awareness,” Mr. John said. “Somehow, someone came up with the idea to string bras across the Mispillion River as a fun way to bring attention to the disease. At events over the past few weeks, we have asked people to bring new and gently used bras that we could string together and stretch them across the river. We have collected over 400 bras, enough to stretch across the river and back again.” The bras were hung on Saturday October 15 on the bridges in Bicentennial Park.
Vicky Cooke, Executive Director of the Delaware Breast Cancer Coalition said that events like this are an excellent way to bring awareness to the need for additional research into breast cancer prevention. She said the events were helpful to survivors and family members who see the support they have in the community.
“Everyone looks for ways to support breast cancer awareness in October,” Ms. Cooke said. “We need to find a way to end this disease. We have become somewhat complacent because treatments and early diagnosis have helped improve the mortality rates from the disease, but there is still a lot of work to be done. We need research into why some women who are diagnosed in the early stage do not survive, yet those diagnosed in late stages are sometimes able to beat the odds. We need to know why some women in families get the disease but others do not. We want to prevent this disease in our daughters.”
Ms. Cooke, who is a 23-year survivor of breast cancer, said that it is not cancer in the breast that causes death, but metastases. When cancer spreads to other parts of the body, Ms. Cooke said that is what leads to death. Ms. Cooke said that her cancer reappeared two years ago and she would like more research into why that happens.
Rita Wright, who is an 18-year breast cancer survivor, said that she was tested for the breast cancer (BRCA) genes. She said one of her sisters refused to be tested because she did not have a daughter and did not think it was necessary.
“The fact is, the BRCA gene can lead to other forms of cancer, even in men,” Ms. Cooke said. “Men can get breast cancer, although it is more rare in men. They are also more susceptible to other types of cancer, such as colon and prostate cancer if they have the gene. The gene can be passed from either the father or the mother.” Ms. Wright said that they believe her BRCA genes were passed down from her father’s side as no one on her mother’s side had been diagnosed with cancer.
Ms. Cooke said that DBCC was currently focusing on encouraging women to live healthier lifestyles. She said that lowering your weight and eliminating unhealthy habits, such as smoking, can reduce your cancer risk. She also said that being healthy can make treatments easier if someone is diagnosed with cancer.
“We want women and men to know that we are here to help them,” Ms. Cooke said. “When I was diagnosed, my husband had just lost his job and I was the sole breadwinner in the house. I had a daughter in college and another daughter who was getting married. Breast cancer does not wait for an opportune time. The wedding had to go on. My daughter needed to stay in college. DBCC is here to offer support, but we also have a fund available to help with minor financial issues during treatment.”
DBCC is the only organization in Delaware devoted solely to fighting breast cancer and all funds raised are used for that purpose. She said that the work experts are doing in finding new and improved treatments as well as better diagnosis methods is amazing, but there is still work to be done.
“We wanted to let everyone who is out there fighting the fight against breast cancer know they were not alone,” Mr. John said. “At the end of the day, we wanted this event to be a fun, lighthearted way to deal with a serious, even deadly situation. We are glad that we could partner with DBCC to help them get their message out to more women.”