Last Sunday, I took part in the Making Strides for Breast Cancer walk at Jones Beach. As I strolled the boardwalk that morning alongside my husband and a friend, and the 65,000 others who attended this annual event, we walked the 5-mile loop from Field 4 to the West End of the Beach and back.
The day couldn’t have been brighter, with a crystal-clear sky, temps in the low 60s, and a breeze blowing from the north at barely 3 mph. In the distance, I saw a circular pattern of jetliners arriving and departing JFK International Airport. It might have been an unusual thought at the time, but as I watched the aircraft heading toward their various destinations, I wondered how many of those passengers sitting in the window seats of their aircraft were looking down toward the inlet that was colored by a steady stream of pink, and how many of those people’s lives have been, or will be, touched by breast cancer.
That morning 65,000 people walked for various reasons, some in memory of a lost loved one, others to honor those who are currently being treated for the disease or who have survived it. But the primary reason for the walk, which takes place throughout the country each October, is to raise hope, awareness, and funding for the research that has come so far since my own mother’s diagnosis in the late 1960s, when the word ‘cancer’ was never said, or only whispered in conversion because of its implications at that time.
But the conversation is more openly spoken today, and the stats are certainly more visible. According to the American Cancer Society, breast cancer is the most common cancer in women in the United States. About 1 in 8 women will get breast cancer during her life. Although it mostly occurs among older women, in rare cases, breast cancer does affect women under the age of 45. It is the second leading cause of cancer death in women, exceeded by lung cancer each year). The good news is that breast cancer death rates have been decreasing steadily since 1989, for an overall decline of 43% through 2020. The decrease in death rates is believed to be the result of finding breast cancer earlier through screening and increased awareness, as well as better treatments. Today there are more than 3.8 million breast cancer survivors in the United States. This includes women still being treated and those who have completed treatment.
These strides did not occur overnight or just with the display of pink ribbons. The story of the pink ribbon was, and is, how it brought awareness when in 1991 they were distributed to breast cancer survivors and participants of the Komen NYC Race for the Cure and then in 1992 when Alexandra Penney, editor-in-chief of Self magazine, wanted to put the magazine’s second annual Breast Cancer Awareness Month issue over the top. She did this by creating a ribbon and enlisting cosmetics giants to distribute them in New York City stores. Penney’s efforts worked.
And as a mother of two daughters, they learned in their growing up years and into the present the significance behind the pink ribbon….and it’s imperative to raise awareness about early detection and support funding for the research that has come a long way since my mother’s diagnosis five decades ago. It was a reminder of a promise I made to her at the age of 21, to remain cognizant, but not fearful, of the disease….to be aware, to maintain a healthy diet and environment, and especially to follow through on annual screenings. Ultimately, it was a promise that saved my life.
Donating funds or materials directly to a philanthropic or non-profit organization has many benefits, in addition to the personal value that comes from a genuine concern for others’ well-being. In accordance, there are other great benefits to be aware of when donating directly to an organization. The Internal Revenue Service encourages taxpayers to consider charitable contributions and offers guidance when doing so at :
Additionally, the non-profit Charity Navigator some of the rules and benefits of placing charitable donations to an organization.
- A gift to a qualified charitable organization may entitle you to a charitable contribution deduction against your income tax if you itemize deductions.
- A contribution is deductible in the year in which it is paid.
- Most, but not all, charitable organizations qualify for a charitable contribution deduction. You can deduct contributions only if they are made to or for the use of a qualified recipient. No charitable contribution deduction is allowed for gifts to certain other kinds of organizations, even if those organizations are exempt from income tax.