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Awareness month validates the will to survive
By Ruth Gesmer Silverman | Daily Herald Columnist
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Published: 9/24/2007 10:11 AM

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Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Not only do we have our own month, but those of us who have metastatic breast cancer now have our own day.

As part of the October Breast Cancer Awareness Month events, New York resident Nina Schulman, a founding member of the new Metastatic Breast Cancer Network, decided to ask her city's mayor, Michael Bloomberg, to designate Oct. 13 to recognize the growing numbers of women who consider their conditions to be chronic and treatable.

I was so excited, I immediately called Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley's office. He has just issued a resolution, too. Buffalo Grove President Elliott Hartstein will introduce one at the next village board meeting.

This recognition validates our convictions. We know we are fortunate to be living at a time when new medications to fight metastatic cancer are being developed at a rapid rate.

As my oncologist said, "When this one doesn't work, I have others in my arsenal to throw at it."

That's why I answered with an emphatic "No!" when WBBM-780 radio reporter/anchor Regine Schlesinger asked me whether I worried about dying from cancer any time soon.

The interview, to kick off Breast Cancer Awareness Month, will air in 40-second snippets throughout the day Oct. 1.

I do know I won't be awake to hear the earlier segments when they begin at 5 a.m., but I'll probably click on to hear any I might miss.

Meanwhile, the Metastatic Breast Cancer Network plans free conferences Oct. 13 in New York and Nov. 17 and 18 in Houston. I can't attend, but plan to stay in touch with the organizers, who like Nina, live with breast cancer. They are among those who receive each of these columns by e-mail and often respond with reactions, suggestions and ideas.

For me, this disease and related treatments have led me to get to know others and to help people recognize that a diagnosis is not the end of the world. Rather, it's a chance to increase awareness.

And -- that, after all, is the purpose of the special day and month. The rest of the year cannot be far behind.