Everyone knows someone

If breast cancer hasn't touched your life yet, it will.

One of the unofficial mantras of breast cancer fighters and survivors is "Everyone knows someone." Whether it's a mother, aunt, neighbor, friend, nephew (yes, men get breast cancer, too), co-worker, child, or teacher, chances are there are far fewer than six degrees of separation between every living American and breast cancer.

More than 230,000 Americans will learn they have breast cancer this year alone. More than 39,000 people will die from it. Literally millions (an estimated 2.6 million) of women are alive today who either have or had breast cancer. Even for those who have successfully battled this disease and are now living cancer-free (and the number doing so is increasing every day), the fear and the reality of it never really go away.

The numbers, like the disease itself, can seem overwhelming. That's one of the reasons why, more than 25 years ago, October was designated as National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. The goal was, and still is, to educate women about early breast cancer detection, diagnosis and treatment.

Mammography screenings are a woman's best chance for detecting breast cancer early. When coupled with new treatment options, mammography screenings can significantly improve a woman's chances of survival. Death rates from breast cancer are going down.

But mammography screenings are effective only if women have them. Women must take control of their own breast health — educate themselves, do self-exams, and schedule regular mammograms. In fact, pick up the phone and schedule one today.

The wonderful thing about Breast Cancer Awareness Month is that it has spurred hundreds of thousands of people to action. Throughout this month, people will be taking part in events to help support The Valley Goes Pink campaign, which is a grassroots, community-wide effort throughout the Lower Naugatuck Valley to create awareness about breast cancer and the importance of early detection, support the Hewitt Center for Breast Wellness at Griffin Hospital and showcase partnering organizations.

Every Wednesday in October is "Percent for Pink Day" at The Original Antonio's, 314 Main Street, Ansonia. Owner Chris Setaro will donate 10% of all sales to the campaign.

Through Oct. 31 James Heating Oil, at 326 Derby Avenue, Derby, will donate $1 for every grill tank refill.

On Sunday, Oct. 7, Ari Bella Restaurant, 66 Huntington Street, Shelton, will host a "Vineyards of the World Wine Tasting" from 2 to 5 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 11, marks the "Young Emerging Professionals' Pinktober Fest" from 5 to 8 p.m. at Molto Bene at John J. Sullivan's Restaurant, 557 Wakelee Avenue, Ansonia. The event will feature a variety of craft brews, wine and scotch tastings, raffles and more. Tickets are $30 per person.

On Thursday, Oct. 18, from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m., LaSala: The Sons of Italy Club of Derby will hold a scotch-tasting fund-raiser. There will be food, music and prizes. Proceeds will benefit The Valley Goes Pink campaign. Price per ticket is $60 through Oct. 11, $70 at the door.

On Sunday, Oct. 21, there will be two hair-cut-a-thons, one in Derby and one in Shelton. From 9 to 1 p.m., Capelli Salon at 131 Main Street, Derby, will be cutting hair, with proceeds to benefit the campaign. From noon to 4 p.m., The Hair After Salon, 522 Shelton Avenue, will hold the benefit.

For more information on "going pink" events, visit griffinhealth.org/pink.

Show your support this month for the millions of women — and men, too — who have been touched by breast cancer.