The Cancer Statistics Center estimates that 20,160 new cases of breast cancer have been diagnosed in the state of Florida this year. On Monday, that estimate grew by at least one: That is when Gov. Ron DeSantis announced that his wife, Casey — Florida's first lady — has breast cancer.
We wish her the very best in medical care, in emotional support, in overcoming and in healing. Casey DeSantis is the mother of three small children and she is, as the governor said, "the centerpiece of our family." No doubt, women across the state can relate. The governor's very personal, very moving announcement coincides with the start of National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, which began on Oct. 1.
It will be a month swathed in pink, the symbolic color of the fight to find a cure for breast cancer. But pink should be more than a symbol. Consider it a call to action and be aware — not all pink is created equal, according to many activists and survivors.
Hil Moss, an MBA/MPH candidate at Yale University and a breast-cancer survivor, writes in STAT that awareness is key. Her recommendations? "Buy only pink products that contribute a substantial amount to research. If a company peddling its pink-ribboned-sneaker donates just 5% of the proceeds to research, pass on that purchase and instead identify companies that direct a substantial portion to breast cancer organizations — many generously donate 100%."
Moss says that financial burdens are an important and harmful side effect of breast-cancer treatment, and one that survivors can live with may shoulder for the rest of their lives.
"Instead of buying pink products from major corporations, search for small businesses run by survivor-entrepreneurs and consider making purchases from them this October — and beyond."
With the abundance of breast cancer awareness products available, Moss says, "It can be easy to forget that donations don't require an intermediary. Reach out directly to esteemed cancer research organizations, such as your local cancer center, and make a donation."
Moss also suggests donating to specific initiatives, such as those dedicated to reducing racial disparities in breast cancer outcomes.
We wish Casey DeSantis resounding victory over breast cancer. We hope, given her high profile, that her diagnosis spurs women throughout the state to renew their commitment to preserving their own health, for their sake and for the sake of their families.
That begins with making an appointment for a mammogram and examination.