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Focus on Breast Cancer Awareness Month overshadowed by pandemic

Focus on Breast Cancer Awareness Month overshadowed by pandemic

IDAHO FALLS, Idaho (KIFI/KIDK) - As the holiday seasons near and Idaho's COVID-19 cases increase, many people are canceling their plans and doing what they can to stay safe through the pandemic. 

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, but the campaign to increase awareness of the disease has been a struggle.

Jodi Weak is the Executive Director of The Idaho Montana Affiliate of Susan G. Komen, a leading breast cancer organization dedicated to combating breast cancer at every front.

"It's certainly been a challenging year. The lack of events has caused some issues, certainly with October being breast cancer awareness month," Weak said.

Normally, dozens of events for breast cancer awareness in East Idaho can be found scheduled from the first to the end of the month.

This year, the spread of awareness has been significantly less.

"We're seeing people that just aren't feeling safe to do events who have normally done events. Or they're having to do events in different ways. And so it might not be reaching as many people," Weak said.

Every year, the Susan G. Komen set financial-fundraising and raising breast cancer outreach goals.

"We will certainly be under both of those goals this October, but I think it's finding those new ways to reach people. Whether you know it's through social media or marketing and things like that," Weak said.

According to the Health Management Leadership, this year, more than ever, there is a need to focus on breast cancer.

They say forty-two thousand people are expected to die from breast cancer in 2020 in the U.S. alone.

Researchers report during the first three months of the COVID-19 pandemic, diagnostic and screening mammograms have decreased over 80%.

There has also been a 50% decline in visits to primary care physicians. 

"Cancer doesn't stop because of COVID-19," Weak said. "We recognize that COVID-19 has caused people to change the way they live their lives. We think it's really important for people to do what they need to feel they with COVID-19, but to also not neglect any other preventative health screenings such as your routine mammogram. So we're definitely encouraging people to get back out there, make those appointments and get back in as soon as you can."

The National Cancer Institute (NCI) projects that pandemic-related delays in diagnosis and treatment disruption could result in 10,000 additional deaths from breast cancer over the next ten years. 

They predict that these disruptions in diagnostic tests, lab work and delayed appointments are all likely to have an impact on cancer patients.

"We want the Communitiesknow we're here for them as a resource. If they need us, feel free to reach out to us," Weak said. "It's really important to protect yourself from COVID-19, but at the same time not neglect any other health issues that you may have including preventative screenings. We know that the earlier you catch breast cancer, the greater the chance of survival and so we want to make sure that we're getting people into their routine screen."

The Susan G Komen Idaho Montana organization plan to kick off its community events for next year.

They hope to pick up where they left off in 2019 and come back even stronger for 2021.

Idaho / Idaho Falls / Local News / News / Top Stories
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Ariel Schroeder

Ariel is a reporter for Local News 8 and KIDK Eyewitness News 3.

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