Op-Ed: Importance of breast cancer awareness, understanding how it affects lives


Photo credit: Jennifer Wu

My nanny plays Santa Claus in the living room with me and my siblings. Her favorite holiday was Christmas, and she was with us for 14 years. We recently lost her to breast cancer, and I want to bring awareness to how the disease impacts lives.

By Emily Paschall, Senior Reporter

I always felt the happiest hearing her keys jangle outside our front door around 7 p.m. every night. It meant Amanda, my nanny, was entering our home. She would consistently greet me and my siblings with a familiar smile and a gentle hello. Amanda was with us for 14 years; I had known her my whole life. Sadly, she passed away due to breast cancer September 2022.

Amanda’s death influenced me to educate myself on breast cancer and bring awareness to it in my community, especially as I have not noticed much recognition of breast cancer awareness or research here, during my time at Archer.

One of the fondest memories I have of Amanda is when she would open her iPad, play “Together Forever” by Rick Astley, and we would dance in the kitchen. Any stress I felt would slip away, and seeing the merry look on her face brought such a warm aura to the room. She was truly an angel, and I thought we’d be together forever.

My mom informed my siblings and me of Amanda’s cancer diagnosis a few years ago. The chemotherapy treatment she was doing had taken an immense toll on her health. Ultimately, she had to be admitted to the hospital. We visited her as often as we could, but the decision was finally made that she would return to her hometown in Finland. Sadly, Amanda passed away one week after she returned home.

I think about her every day. So many things in my daily life remind me of the joy she brought, and I miss her dearly.

Awhile after her death, I spent time learning more about breast cancer and how it affects people around the world. Throughout the past few weeks, I have taken the time to research breast cancer and the different ways of preventing death by the disease.

According to American Cancer Society, “breast cancer is the most common cancer in women in the United States, except for skin cancers.” It appears most often in middle-aged to older women, and the median age of having diagnosed breast cancer is 62 years old. The organization’s website also states that “breast cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in women. The chance that a woman will die from breast cancer is about one in 39.”

These statistics demonstrate just how many lives are affected by breast cancer. They also convey importance of breast cancer screening. Early detection is key in having a higher chance of surviving breast cancer, and everyone, regardless of gender, should get screened regularly to make sure their body is in a healthy state. It is crucial that everyone be informed on this terrible disease so we can understand what individuals and families are going through.

Where are the presentations, assemblies or announcements to recognize breast cancer awareness and research? The lack of attention to breast cancer awareness at Archer is unacceptable and needs to change. It is especially important to bring attention to it during National Breast Cancer Awareness Month and Day.

During October, take time to understand what those affected by breast cancer go through. Organizations like National Breast Cancer Foundation, Inc have calendars that break the month into themed weeks to learn about the disease on a deeper level.

But, we shouldn’t just recognize breast cancer for one month or one day each year. Students should be informed on how they can get involved in learning about breast cancer and should take initiative to do so throughout their entire lives.

I urge everyone to support local organizations, such as Susan G. Komen, that fund breast cancer research and spread awareness on the disease. For Breast Cancer Awareness Month and day in October, take time to understand what those affected by breast cancer go through. Sports games that recognize breast cancer research, such as Dig Pink events, are also wonderful ways to communicate why breast cancer awareness is important to large groups of people.

Breast cancer impacts so many people and their loved ones. Especially as an all-girls school, we must put effort into bringing attention to it and support research about it.

Everyone has a different experience in different stages, but ultimately breast cancer hurts individuals fighting against it and their loved ones beside them. We must come together to raise awareness, empathize with those struggling both emotionally and physically and fund research to help cure breast cancer.