Raising Awareness in September and Beyond

September 04, 2020 5:00 AM

Cancer awareness months offer the community a chance to improve treatments, prevention.

Cancer ribbons

For most, the end of summer and beginning of fall brings to mind thoughts of returning to school (even if it’s virtually), or possibly trips to apple orchards or cider mills. But at the Rogel Cancer Center, it serves an even greater purpose.

“This time of year represents the beginning of a number of cancer awareness months,” said Martha Laatsch, director of community outreach for the Rogel Cancer Center. “Our community outreach program tries to feature educational events that line up with these cancer campaigns.”

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Cancer is the second-leading cause of death in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Regular screenings and early detection are key to improving outcomes for patients.

That’s where awareness months can play a vital role.

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“If we can help people learn about cancer and some of the signs or symptoms, it’s possible that we’ll be able to better detect and treat these conditions,” Laatsch said. “There are life-saving benefits to expanding awareness to as many people as possible.”

On top of that, building awareness also increases the amount of donations that fund services for patients, as well as the research that leads to treatment breakthroughs.

They also serve as a helpful reminder for the general public to schedule necessary cancer screenings. National guidelines recommend what ages you should be screened at for certain cancers. If you have a family history of cancer or other risk factors, your doctor may recommend that you begin screening sooner.

SEE ALSO: Why You Should Continue Routine Cancer Screenings During COVID-19

Providing support

While Breast Cancer Awareness Month in October typically receives a lot of attention, in September, seven other cancer types work to bring awareness to their diseases and prevention. 

Throughout September, the Rogel Cancer Center works to raise awareness of childhood cancer, gynecological cancer, leukemia, lymphoma, ovarian cancer, prostate cancer and thyroid cancer. But no matter the awareness month, the Rogel Cancer Center provides several resources for all its patients all year long.

“It’s important to make sure that patients and families who are managing any type of cancer diagnosis feel supported and part of the Michigan Medicine community throughout their treatment journey,” said Donna Murphy of Patient at Family Services at the Rogel Cancer Center. Resources include:

  • Patient and Family Support Services.. These complementary therapies usually refer to activities which offer a creative and/or physical outlet to reduce stress and anxiety including art therapy, guided imagery and music therapy.

  • Patient Navigation. This involves non-clinical members of the health care team who specialize in guiding patients through a complex system. They work to educate, support and empower patients throughout their cancer journey. Navigators connect individuals to resources within Michigan Medicine and in the community.

  • Rogel Cancer Center Community Outreach. A team that is committed to providing reliable health information, tailored programs and special events to educate the community about cancer prevention, screening and early diagnosis.

“In the end, awareness months are a lot more than sporting a ribbon for 30 days,” Laatsch said. “They allow us to refocus efforts on helping, supporting and treating those who are managing a cancer diagnosis each and every day.”