National Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Saint Louis University is doing its part to raise awareness about breast cancer. The Student Health and Counseling Center, new SLU sorority Zeta Tau Alpha and Relay for Life are all contributing to the cause through education and fundraising.

The Health and Counseling Center, located at the base of Marchetti East, offers free breast exams in October. Director Debbie Scheff, R.N., said that only 30 to 35 women take advantage of the free exams.

“It’s pretty easy and quick, and it’s so important,” Scheff said.

It is estimated that 40,460 women and 450 men will die of breast cancer this year, the American Cancer Society reports. Since 1990, the female breast cancer mortality rate has decreased, particularly among younger age groups. The decline is attributed to early detection and screening, as well as improvements in breast cancer treatment.

Early detection and screening are important in determining a woman’s prognosis. Doctors recommend that women between the ages of 20 and 39 have a breast exam every three years, but performing monthly breast exams is a good practice.

Since 1992, ZTA’s national philanthropy has been breast cancer. Philanthropy Chair Nicole Robinette said that self-exams are vital because “if you catch it early … it’s easier to treat. Every girl should do it.”

Relay for Life raises money to raise awareness about and fight all forms of cancer. This year’s kick-off is Nov. 7 at 7 p.m. in DuBourg 157.

Junior Samantha Howard has participated in Relay for the last five years, including while at SLU.

“My grandma survived breast cancer, and my grandma is one of my best friends,” said Howard. “She’s a phenomenal woman.”

Howard said that someone must remain on the track at all times during the Relay event to represent how someone, be it doctors, friends or family, is always working for the cancer patient.

“[My grandma] survived because of the people in her life who helped her work through it … So much of it is the love that they’re given,” Howard said.

To schedule a free breast exam at the Student Health and Counseling Center, call 977-2323.