By Patty Leon and Lawrence Dorsey.
Last Thursday’s Farmers Market had everyone looking pretty in pink as they honored folks battling with breast cancer at the third annual Paint Liberty Pink. The event held was at Gap Park as part of National Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
“This is to bring awareness to breast cancer,” local Realtor Kathy Villafane said. “And also, to honor those who have lost the fight and support those who are fighting the good fight.”
Villafane lost her sister to breast cancer three years ago. “On March 24, 2019, my sister Brenda passed away from breast cancer,” Villafane said. She said as October 2019 approached, she wanted to do something to honor her sister.
Villafane, along with the assistance of Liberty County Chamber of Commerce Director Leah Poole, and Liberty Relay for Life organizer, Dr. Karen Bell reached out to the city and county to put together a small annual event.
“Before you know it, we had a proclamation from the City and from the County and from that day forward we’ve been Painting Liberty Pink,” Villafane said.
She was surprised that such a proclamation, to raise awareness on breast cancer had not been done sooner. She said it was an honor and she was moved when Liberty County Commissioner Chairman Donald Lovette asked about her sister. “It caught me offguard,” she said. “Because it was a very exciting day and overwhelming. When he stopped and asked me about my sister it really touched me and it just shows that we have a community that truly cares about their citizens.”
Villafane said she thinks about her sister every day. “She made me who I am today,” she said. “To have something like this to reflect on is a bitter-sweet thing. But instead of feeling bitter it makes me feel better about the situation.”
Villafane said she wants to keep painting Liberty County pink each year so people can learn as much as possible about breast cancer.
“And to support those who are going through this battle, and to keep those in prayers who have lost their loved ones,” she said.
According to breastcancer.org, about 1 in 8 U.S. women (about 13 percent) will develop invasive breast cancer over the course of her lifetime. About 43,600 women in the U.S. are expected to die in 2021 from breast cancer.
Death rates have been steady in women under 50 since 2007, but have continued to drop in women over 50. The overall death rate from breast cancer decreased by 1 percent per year from 2013 to 2018. These decreases are thought to be the result of treatment advances and earlier detection through screening. About 2,650 new cases of invasive breast cancer are expected to be diagnosed in men in 2021. A man’s lifetime risk of breast cancer is about 1 in 833.
For women who are known to be at increased risk for breast cancer, the American Cancer Society recommends these steps which might reduce the risk of developing breast cancer.
Get to and stay at a healthy weight: Both increased body weight and weight gain as an adult are linked with a higher risk of breast cancer after menopause.
The American Cancer Society recommends you stay at a healthy weight throughout your life and avoid excess weight gain by balancing your food intake with physical activity.
Be physically active: Many studies have shown that moderate to vigorous physical activity is linked with lower breast cancer risk, so it’s important to get regular physical activity. The American Cancer Society recommends that adults get at least 150 to 300 minutes of moderate intensity or 75 to 150 minutes of vigorous intensity activity each week (or a combination of these), preferably spread throughout the week. Getting to or exceeding the upper limit of 300 minutes is ideal.
Avoid or limit alcohol: Alcohol increases risk of breast cancer. Even low levels of alcohol intake have been linked with an increase in risk. It is best not to drink alcohol. For women who do drink, they should have no more than 1 alcoholic drink a day. A drink is 12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine, or 1.5 ounces of 80-proof distilled spirits (hard liquor).