'Read Pink' today to build awareness of breast cancer

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and as you can see, the Citizen is "Going Pink" to do our part in increasing awareness and prevention of this deadly disease.

The incidence rate of breast cancer in Georgia is moderate compared to some other states. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, Georgia is second-lowest in its incidence rate per 100,000 people. In 2007, the most recent year for which statistics are available, Georgia was among states that reported 116.9 to 122.5 cases of breast cancer per 100,000 people.

In contrast, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Oklahoma, Oregon, Rhode Island, and Vermont had the highest rate, with an incidence rate of 124.9 to 139.2 per 100,000 people. The lowest rates, 99.9 to 116.8, were reported in Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Indiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, Texas, Utah, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.

Early detection plays a clear and direct role in survival rates for those who are diagnosed with breast cancer. As more information about breast cancer screenings has become available, and as more women have taken advantage of mammograms and other detection methods, the mortality rate for women with breast cancer has significantly decreased, according to the CDC. Since 2006, deaths from breast cancer decreased 1.9 percent per year from 1998 to 2006 for all women. Deaths among Hispanic women decreased the most -- 2.1 percent per year -- and remained level for American Indian and Asian women. The rate decreased by 2.0 percent for white women and 1.5 percent for black women.

In today's edition of the Citizen, you will find the stories of 43 women in our community who are breast cancer survivors. Their stories differ in many ways, but there are some common themes -- they tackled their disease with determination and resolve; they relied on the support of family and friends, and most importantly, their faith, to carry them through the treatment process; and they maintained a positive outlook. Their message is clear: breast cancer is a terrible diagnosis, but it is survivable and life afterwards can be more rewarding because of the realization of what was nearly lost.

Please take time to read these women's stories and the stories that will follow each Friday throughout the month of October. Also, please note that a portion of the proceeds from advertising in today's edition will go to breast cancer initiatives at Newton Medical Center Hope Boutique and Kimberley Chance Atkins Foundation. The more awareness we can build about breast cancer -- its detection and prevention -- the more our community will be like those breast cancer survivors -- healthier, stronger and more vibrant.