Evanstonians talk prevention, support during breast cancer awareness month

Clara Gustafson and Hannah Cervantes

When October begins, so does breast cancer awareness month. In Evanston this means events to raise awareness and support for those with breast cancer, those who have beaten it, those working to help those who have it, and the families of deceased and fighting patients are starting up. 

Leading up to and during October there are events such as walks and community gatherings that are available to anyone to help spread awareness not only in Evanston but also in its neighbor, Chicago. 

ETHS parent Debbie Jefferson was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2017 and has since recovered, since her recovery she has been active in breast cancer awareness events, “I participated in the Susan G. Komen Breast cancer walk in Chicago this past weekend,” she explained, “[My daughter] and I have been volunteering ever since I had my surgery. I try to do a lot of volunteer work to support different organizations with breast cancer research and provide women with the opportunities to get mammograms because it is a very, very prevalent disease.”

Along with the Susan G. Komen 3-Day Walk in Chicago, there are supports and fundraisers in Evanston too. 

Dr.Georgia Spear, a radiologist at NorthShore, has been involved in podcasts and American Cancer Society walks on the NorthShore that raise awareness and share information about how the NorthShore can help Evanston residents be proactive about screening and catching breast cancer early on.

Dr.Spear also believes that the support that the NorthShore offers and the information being shared at events and walks is targeted at everybody in Evanston. “The target audience [of these events] I would say is really every household because every household obviously knows women or has women as part of that household and even then, 1% of men can develop breast cancer.” Spear said.  “So, I think it’s an educational piece for every single household, whether they have family or loved ones that have or have had breast cancer … but really every household can be affected by this because one in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in her lifetime.”

Even though the obvious ultimate goal is for breast cancer to be cured, Dr.Spear believes that the best that Evanston residents can do right now is be aware and proactive against breast cancer and catching it in its early stages. “Early detection matters in breast cancer screening and encouraging family and friends to get screened for breast cancer every year.” She continued, “I would just say that I would always urge that people are always advocating for their health and finding out more about it. My mission has always been to find leading innovations, technology and research that are going to help make a difference”

Although through the NorthShore and American Cancer Society citizens of Evanston are able to reach a large audience, there is always more that can be done. “Can we always improve on [getting information about breast cancer out to people]?” Dr.Spear asked. “Absolutely… We always want to do better. I mean, I don’t think we’ve ever achieved our saturated status of outreach. We are always trying to make sure that women and just families know about breast cancer and about breast cancer screening and what options are there for them. We can always do better.”