What does breast cancer and bullying have in common?

Admittedly it may seem rather odd to think that breast cancer which almost 12% of all U.S. women will experience in their lifetime and bullying which 56% of students have personally felt would have much in common. I invite you to click on the link below to discover three commonalities of this unusual paring along with the stories of how two people one with breast cancer and one who was being bullied succeeded in the critical moment.

Admittedly it may seem rather odd to think that breast cancer which almost 12% of all U.S. women will experience in their lifetime and bullying which 56% of students have personally felt would have much in common

Here are three things that this unusual paring have in common:

  • First, October is awareness month for both breast cancer and bullying.
  • Second, dramatic reductions in the rates of breast cancer and bullying have occurred in the last 3 years according to figures from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
  • Third, breast cancer patients and people being bullied both have the power to succeed in the critical moments.

In this post it is my honor to share the story of two people one with breast cancer one who was being bullied both succeeding in the critical moments.

Before we meet these remarkable people let’s become more aware of what is at stake in the struggle against breast cancer and bullying.  

Breast Cancer

  • About 1 in 8 U.S. women (just under 12%) will develop breast cancer over the course of her lifetime.
  • In 2011, an estimated 230,480 new cases of breast cancer were diagnosed in US women.  In 2011, 2,140 US men were diagnosed with breast cancer. A man’s lifetime risk of breast cancer is about 1 in 1,000.
  • Though death rates have been decreasing since 1990 — especially in women under 50.  Still in 2011 about 39,520 women in the U.S. died from breast cancer.

Susan G. Komen for the Cure®  

Bullying

  • 56% of students have personally felt some sort of bullying at school. 90% of students between 4th and 8th grade are victims of bullying.  1 in 4 teachers see nothing wrong with bullying and will only intervene 4% percent of the time.
  • 9 out of 10 LGBT youth reported being verbally harassed at school in the past year because of their sexual orientation. One out of 10 students drops out of school because they are bullied.
  • Bully victims are between 2 to 9 times more likely to consider suicide than non-victims.

American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry

Stories of courage and action:  

In June of 2011 Peat Hampton was at the top of his game.  He was a computer programmer from suburban Houston a husband a father and an athlete. During a shower after taking a swim Peat felt a lump on his breast.  Because of what she learned from the American Cancer Society, Peat’s wife Cindy instantly knew that something was wrong.  Two weeks later her fears were confirmed Peat was one of the 2,140 men in the US diagnosed with breast cancer.

Peat was devastated by the diagnosis a “man’s man”… not only did he had cancer he had the “women” cancer.  In the two weeks before his surgery Peat was down in the dumps until he met another “man’s man” Roger Windom. Roger an Iraq war veteran was diagnosed with the “women” cancer while on the battlefield. After successful treatment Roger was back in the war zone within in a year.  Roger’s message to Peat…man up!  There is no “man’s cancer” there is no “women’s cancer” there is just cancer. Have the surgery and then go tell other men in your shoes about your experience.”

Peat summed the courage and had the surgery. Now a year later he is part of the largest group of cancer survivors in the U.S., the nearly 3 million people who have been successfully treated for breast cancer.

His health restored Pete then took action he joined Roger and others to raise breast cancer awareness among men. They have formed a group called “Pink Men” which has gone across the country sharing information and saving lives.

Tracie Altman is the model teenager.  She is an accomplished student at the top of her class, she was the stage manager for her high school musical, and she was the editor of her school newspaper. However, despite all of these accomplishments Tracie was being bullied. She was the target of crude and degrading Facebook posts bullying her for being fat, bullying her for being a nerd, bullying her for being gay.

Showing awareness and courage beyond her years Tracie did not let the attacks bring her down instead she took action.  Using her platform as the high school newspaper editor Tracie penned articles about bullying.  Aware of the problem perhaps for the first time her fellow students started to take action. Tracie’s Facebook friends posted her articles for others to see, and reported the names of those who bullied her. The school board was so moved by Tracie’s articles they took action, developing a comprehensive bullying prevention program including awareness training for teachers, and students along with procedures to report bullying. These measures have helped countless others all because of the awareness, courage and action of Tracie Altman.

The Bottom Line

While the examples of Tracie and Peat demonstrates the power to succeed in the critical moments.  Others facing the same critical moment have not been successful.

  • Many have suffered and died perhaps needlessly from breast cancer because they were not aware of its symptoms.
  • Many have been bullied because they or others lacked the courage to stop it.

For those of us who do not have breast cancer or who have not been bullied it up to us to take action for those who have.  For when we do we are increasing awareness, we are giving courage so that those who are in the critical moment can take action.  If we can do this then breast cancer and bullying will have one more thing in common…they will both be things of the past.

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