For October, “Breast Cancer Awareness Month,” I decided I wanted to write a series featuring women in our community who have been impacted by this disease. The work led me to realize that breast cancer affects everyone.

Regardless of whether you have the disease, know someone who has breast cancer or are at high risk for the disease, it seems everyone has a different story to share. This makes sense, considering that — aside from some skin cancers — breast cancer is the most common form of cancer in women, no matter your race or ethnicity, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

During this month, we hear a lot about pink, a color used to represent breast cancer awareness. But what I’ve come to learn through this series is that pink is only part of the story, that early detection and prevention works for many but not for all, that everyone’s journey is unique, and that some have happy endings while others don’t.

The stories I share span across the stage spectrum, from my personal story of dealing with the risk of breast cancer, to the story of a young woman who made the choice to take preventative action, to the story of a survivor, to the story of the women who are embarking on the fight for their lives.

The stories shared here are the realities of breast cancer. Some are recognizable stories we hear throughout the entire month of October and some are new stories just now starting to be told.

The author (second from left) is seen here with her family: (left to right) Elliot King, Marcie Johnson, Jordan King and Anita King. (Provided photo)

A Personal Story of Living with the Risks
I learned in 2013 that the the BRCA-1 genetic mutation runs in my family, but for now, I have decided not to get tested. This is my story.
[Read the full story.]

Ali Rogin: “I’m grateful I could take preventative actions to save myself a lot of heartache.” (Provided photo)

Ali Rogin: The Story of a ‘Previvor’
It’s been a decade since Ali Rogin underwent a prophylactic double mastectomy after learning she is BRCA-1 positive, but the start of her journey is still fresh in her mind.
[Read the full story.]

Jill Mull and her family today. (Photo provided)

Jill Mull: One Breast Cancer Survivor’s Story
For Pikesville native and Park School graduate Jill Mull, being a breast cancer survivor is something to be celebrated but not taken for granted.
[Read the full story.]

Chawnte Randall with her daughter, Lauren Harcum, and Erin Leland (Provided photos)

Metastatic is the ‘Black Sheep’ of the Breast Cancer Community
Chawnte Randall and Erin Leland, along with thousands of other brave women, are raising awareness for the hundreds of thousands suffering from metastatic breast cancer.
[Read the full story.]

Resources for Breast Cancer Prevention, Treatment and Awareness

Sharsheret

Founded in 2001, Sharsheret is the Jewish community’s response to breast cancer. It’s the only national organization to address the unique concerns of Jewish women dealing with breast and ovarian cancer. The Teaneck, N.J.-based organization specializes in supporting women and families of all Jewish backgrounds at all stages of the process. There is support for those who are high-risk, those who are newly diagnosed, those who are in treatment and those who are post-treatment. For information, visit https://sharsheret.org/.

Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Institute at Johns Hopkins Hospital

Johns Hopkins Hospital’s cancer care ranks #4 in the nation, according to the 2019-2020 best hospitals list of U.S. News and World Report. The center is made up of nationally recognized specialists in breast cancer research and treatment. The experts at Hopkins develop new trials, test treatments and work closely with other doctors involved in the process. There is also a patient outreach and navigator program. For information, visit https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/kimmel_cancer_center/.

HopeWell Cancer Support

Programs at HopeWell Cancer Support are designed to complement medical care. The nonprofit, founded in 1993, is located in Lutherville and offers a wide range of programs, including exercise classes, support groups, social activities and educational seminars. Part of the mission of the organization is to create a community for those with cancer, as well as loved ones of those who are fighting cancer. For information, visit http://www.hopewellcancersupport.org/.