ARLINGTON — The city of Arlington proclaimed October of 2012 to be National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, with the help of a city employee who’s already well aware of breast cancer.
At the Monday, Oct. 1, Arlington City Council meeting, Mayor Barbara Tolbert invited Assistant City Administrator Kristin Banfield to read Tolbert’s proclamation asking all of the city’s employees and citizens to “join in this worthwhile cause, to celebrate successes and memorialize lost battles.”
Banfield is set to serve as the event chair for the 2013 Marysville-Tulalip Relay For Life for the American Cancer Society. After being diagnosed with breast cancer in April of 2008, Banfield has undergone several surgeries and now calls herself a breast cancer survivor.
Tolbert’s proclamation noted that National Breast Cancer Awareness Month is intended to help educate women about early breast cancer detection, diagnosis and treatment, and added that it aims to increase public knowledge about the importance of early detection of breast cancer via national public service organizations, professional associations and government agencies, who work together to ensure that the month’s message is heard by thousands of women and their families.
Because Friday, Oct. 19, is National Mammography Day, the proclamation encouraged women to make mammography appointments that day and throughout the month.
“Mammograms are the best method to detect breast cancer early, when it is easier to treat,” Banfield read from the proclamation, which also pointed out that breast cancer is the most common cancer among American women, except for skin cancers, and the chance of developing invasive breast cancer at some time in a woman’s life is about one in eight. “Death rates from breast cancer have been declining, and this change is believed to be the result of earlier detection through screening, increased awareness and improved treatment.”
Before handing off the proclamation back to Tolbert, Banfield acknowledged that “there remains much to be accomplished” even in the midst of the many strides that have been made in breast cancer awareness and treatment.
After that evening’s meeting, Banfield described herself as a living example of the proclamation’s wisdom.
“They wouldn’t even have found my cancer if my doctor hadn’t sent me to get a mammogram, that I was too young for, because my results looked weird,” Banfield said. “Early detection is critical. If I’d just ignored what I was told for another six months, my cancer would have reached stage 2 or 3. It was growing that fast. I’m a true testament to early detection.”
Among those associated with the city of Arlington whose lives have also been touched by breast cancer is former Mayor Margaret Larson, who was still in office when she took time during the lead-up to the 2011 Arlington Relay For Life to share with the public that she’d been diagnosed with breast cancer in 2010, when a prescription refill in the wake of a hip replacement prompted an overdue mammogram.
“For me, ‘M’ stood for ‘May,’ when I usually got my mammogram,” Larson said. “Now, it stands for ‘mammogram,’ because I’m not going to forget again.”