Bright yellows, oranges and reds traditionally are thought of as the colors of October. But a new one - pink - has been added to the mix.
October is national Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Throughout the Ohio Valley, programs to raise awareness about one of the major killers of women - featuring pink banners, pins, decals, etc. - are in progress. Even high school football players are sporting pink breast cancer awareness decals on their helmets.
Why the intense interest in informing people about breast cancer? Because it is a disease that often can be detected early and, if so, survived. Left untreated too long, however, and the disease becomes virtually unbeatable.
When breast cancer is diagnosed early, 93 percent of its victims beat "the Big C." Women whose cancers have progressed to what doctors describe as Stage IV have only a 15 percent chance of survival.
Consider two statistics: Traffic accidents kill about 970 West Virginians and Ohioans each year. Breast cancer annually claims the lives of about 2,150 residents of our two states.
Now consider this, if you are a female of driving age: How much thought and effort do you put into safe driving? More than you put into protecting yourself against breast cancer, in all likelihood.
Self-examination is the most basic level of protection. If you are uncertain how to check, ask your family doctor.
Regular mammograms and examinations by health care professionals also are critical safeguards. Again, ask your doctor.
The great tragedy of breast cancer is that it is so easy to detect and can be treated so effectively - yet it kills so many women. That is why so many area residents are participating in various campaigns to raise awareness of the disease and what can be done to combat it.
Enjoy the colors of fall this month. But keep in mind the new October color - pink - and heed the warning that goes along with it.