Breast Cancer Awareness Proponents Have ONE Woman to Thank & It’s Not Who You Think

Continuing the flow of getting old Inside Outs from the newspaper up on here! Enjoy one from October 2010!

It’s a credit to the cause that you can’t help seeing pink everywhere in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

But it’s a credit to the most unlikely of places that I can type those words today, and expect to see them in print in Tuesday’s edition of the Democrat.
 
Betty Ford.

Before she became the first lady best known for her clinics for rescuing alcoholics and drug-adled celebrities from addiction. After she became the first lady who horrified the Republican Party by publicly refusing to toe the line on women’s issues like abortion.

She was Betty Ford, the woman who forced Walter Cronkite to say the word breast on national TV.
She didn’t have “female troubles.”

She didn’t have a private convalescence.

She was the first lady. She had breast cancer. And everyone knew about it.

As Ford told TIME Magazine, she knew she had the platform to force the world to start talking about it.
Earlier this month FORBES Magazine landed itself in a pickle when it named Michelle Obama one of the world’s most powerful women. Even her greatest champions noted the first lady’s current power is not of her own making. As accomplished as she is in her own right, her current power is a pulpit offered her by her even more powerful husband.

Betty Ford knew how to use that pulpit.

There have been others with her, but Ford remains one of the first to force the issue that kills 40,000 American women every year into the public spotlight. In making people talk about it, she likewise made it OK to talk about.

She made my job easier.

I can share my concerns as a woman with the world and at the same time share valid news with the readers.
Breast cancer awareness may not seem necessary in a day and age when everything from your bag of pretzels to your favorite NFL player’s cleats has been pink-washed.

But Betty Ford had her mastectomy in 1974.

In 1975, 32 per 100,000 white women died of breast cancer. By 2005, that figure had dropped to 23 per 100,000. In black women the number has gone in the other direction – from 30 per 100,000 black women in 1975 to 33 per 100,000 in 2005.

Evened out, by the Susan G. Komen For the Cure estimates, that’s still 40,000 families losing their beloved.

Year after year.
 
I can’t let some pink shoes do the job for me.
 
Betty Ford let the world talk about her breasts.

The least thing I can do is talk about the rest of them.

It’s Breast Cancer Awareness Month. You’re aware it’s there. Now let’s do something to make it go away.

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Image via SCA Svenska Cellulosa Aktiebolaget/Flickr

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