Palm Beach takes steps toward breast cancer awareness
Updated: Nov 13
October brings awareness to the 29,560 people diagnosed with breast cancer every year. In Palm Beach County, Making Strides Against Breast Cancer welcomed an estimated 5,000 survivors, caregivers, and supporters to Sunset Cove Amphitheatre on Saturday Oct. 14 to celebrate, create awareness and raise funds to change the face of breast cancer as we know it.
The day began with an opening ceremony in which survivors and local politicians emphasized the importance of this event. The walk started at 9 am. Together, community members walk 3-5 kilometers to show their support for each other and remind breast cancer victims that they are not alone.
Making Strides Against Breast Cancer was established in 1993 by volunteers and the American Cancer Society made it an official event to celebrate courage and hope. It is now the nation’s largest breast cancer movement.
“We are the movement. We are the hope. We are the future,” states the American Cancer Society Making Strides Against Breast Cancer.
Lindsay Bennett, senior development manager for the American Cancer Society, says that MSABC began so that newly diagnosed men and women could have a community of people going through the same thing.
“Many were scared, but here you should feel that you were not alone,” Bennett said.
Cindy Weinberger, an occupational therapist and local business owner, spoke at this year's walk.
“I was very honored to be asked to do that. It was very humbling to be surrounded by all these people that are supporters or going through this on their own,” Weinberger said.
In Dec. 2022, Weinberger was unexpectedly diagnosed with breast cancer.
“I have always been a very healthy person, with no medical issues. I remember my first thought was, ‘What? Are you kidding me?’” Weinberger said.
Bennett emphasizes the importance of celebrating the survivor’s victories.
“It can feel very scary and lonely when you are diagnosed, celebrating with them, celebrating those victories will take some of the fear away.”
“I can fight this. Look at all the people that have beaten this; I can do that too,” Bennett said.
Bennett claims that the response to a cancer diagnosis has become more hopeful since 1913, when the American Cancer Society began. Originally, cancer patients were encouraged to keep their diagnosis to themselves.
“You did not talk about it. It was whispered, like it was something you had done wrong,” Bennett said.
“I am so glad that breast cancer is no longer a death sentence. Before, people asked, ‘How long do you have to live?’ Luckily, it is not like that anymore,” Weinberger said.
Weinberger finds hope in friends and family that have lived long, full lives after being diagnosed with breast cancer.
Treatment has changed over the years, with screening and surgical invention being better than ever. The American Cancer Society, and movements like MSABC, support treatment improvements by donating 80% of every dollar that they raise at the walk to this mission.
“It goes back to research, patient support, hospital support and better screening,” Bennett said.
The American Cancer Society researches new ways to diagnose cancer, such as methods of finding it earlier, getting people to their screenings, and developing information from just one drop of blood.
Although it is most commonly found among women between 50 and 70 years old, breast cancer affects a variety of people. Black women and Alaskan women die about 40% more often than other women. Also, about 2800 men are diagnosed with breast cancer every year.
Bennett claimed that the American Cancer Society is figuring out the cause behind these statistics and what they can do about them. She encouraged everyone to talk to their doctors and learn their family history. Bennett also emphasized the importance of learning how to listen to your body.
“Pay attention to your body. If you feel that you are not being heard by your doctor it is time to find a new one. You know your body, so listen to it.” Bennett said.
Go to makingstrideswalk.org/palmbeachfl for contact information and to support their work.
By Anna Hanstveit