(Editor's note: This article comes courtesy of the Defense Video & Imagery Distribution System. It was written by Sgt. Jennifer Spradlin with the 19th Public Affairs Detachment)
October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
For many, the fight against breast cancer has become personal. According to the American Cancer Society, approximately one in eight women will have a form of breast cancer during their lifetime, and it is the second leading cause of cancer death in women. Breast cancer has directly affected the lives of my paternal grandmother and more recently my stepmother, who underwent a double mastectomy and is still struggling to beat the disease.
The good news is that breast cancer death rates have been steadily declining due in part to early detection efforts and improved treatment techniques. Today there are more than 2.5 million breast cancer survivors in the United States, but the fight is far from over.
When I learned that Tacoma was hosting a Making Strides Against Breast Cancer Walk, I knew it was something I wanted to be a part of. Donations from the event would be used to support prevention efforts, research for finding a cure, and helping women who have been diagnosed with breast cancer by providing transportation and lodging assistance, emotional support programs and cancer education classes.
While deployed to Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan, I began taking part in charitable races for both local Afghan causes and international veterans programs. I found that the camaraderie and sense of satisfaction that came with completing each of these events was a good way to take my mind off the typical deployment blues; but once I redeployed, it was easier to be selfish with my free time and my participation dropped off.
Those in the military know the easy way, isn’t always the right way.
It has been said that pledging to serve your country in an all-volunteer military is the ultimate sacrifice, and while I agree that is true, especially for those who lay down their lives to protect freedom and justice – it need not be the only way in which you give back. Selfless service is an Army value and one that should extend beyond your duties as a Soldier. It means being a good citizen too.
I felt a great deal of pride to join the more than 2,000 walkers who took part in the event last Saturday, despite the rainy weather. The atmosphere was determined but also jovial, with many breast cancer survivors on hand to lead from the front and entire families decked out in pink tutus, feathered headpieces and carrying handmade signs. It was fun, it was exercise and in some way, it lent itself to helping the women in my own family and all women.
It is my strongest recommendation that you find a cause to be passionate about, enlist your friends and family members, and give back a little of your time. It is just as rewarding to be a hero in your community as it is to be a hero on the battlefield.