October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and there will be plenty of reminders, activities and educational opportunities throughout Harford County.

Harford's observance of National Breast Cancer Awareness Month gets started this Friday evening, Sept. 28, at 7:00 in front of the historic Concord Point Lighthouse in Havre de Grace.

Representatives from Harford County government, along with Havre de Grace Mayor Wayne Dougherty, members of the Havre de Grace City Council and representatives of the Susan G. Komen Maryland Affiliate will hold a ceremonial lighting of the Concord Point Lighthouse, which will be will be illuminated in Pink for the month of October in recognition of Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

The Harford County Administration Building located at 220 South Main Street in Bel Air will also be illuminated in pink during October.


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"Harford County Government is once again proud to partner with the Maryland Affiliate of Susan G. Komen for the Cure and the City of Havre de Grace in our on-going effort to heighten awareness of the serious health issue of breast cancer," said County Executive Craig earlier this week, as he proclaimed October Breast Cancer Awareness Month in Harford County.

"Our proclamation is a small step but a significant symbol of our support for Susan G. Komen for the Cure and others to find a cure for this terrible disease," Craig said.

Maryland has the fifth highest breast cancer death rate in the nation according to statistics from the Maryland Affiliate of Susan G. Komen for the Cure, Craig noted.

"The pink rays of light reflecting on the Concord Point Lighthouse during "Breast Cancer Awareness Month" will be a symbol of Harford County's dedication and hope in finding a cure," said Kim Spence, Chief of Budget and Management for Harford County Government and coordinator of Friday's lighting event.

"Harford County is proud to support the work of the Maryland Affiliate of Susan G. Komen for the Cure in helping raise public awareness of breast cancer," Craig added.

Health recommendations

October is one of the few times you'll see professional male athletes adorned in pink. Look around in October and you are bound to see lots of pink ribbons signifying National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, a time when the Harford County Health Department reminds the public to take action.

The Harford health department's Cigarette Restitution Fund Cancer Program Coordinator Susan Twigg and Breast and Cervical Cancer Program Coordinator Wendy Richard encourage women to discuss with their doctors their risk and appropriate breast cancer screening.

Twigg and Richard also wish to send a loud, clear message to men and women, alike, to remind their mothers, sisters, wives, daughters, and any women they love how important it is for them to be screened for breast cancer.

According to the health department, breast cancer screenings can be quick and easy and generally include two relatively simple procedures.

Both the clinical breast exam and a mammogram complement one another. A clinical breast exam is performed by a doctor and can identify breast abnormalities. A mammogram is a low-dose X-ray picture of the breast that can help find breast cancer at an early stage when it can best be treated. Beginning at age 40, it is recommended that woman have both procedures performed.

The American Cancer Society provides the following screening recommendations:

• Women in their 20's and 30's should have a clinical breast exam every 1-3 years.

• Women over the age of 40 should have a yearly clinical breast exam and mammogram.

• Women at high risk should consult with their physician regarding screening type and when to be screened.

Early detection, treatment, research and support from family and friends make a huge difference. In 2011, there are more than 2.5 million breast cancer survivors in the United States.

"If all women age 40 and older took advantage of these breast cancer screening methods, that is, clinical breast exam and mammogram, breast cancer death rates would decline considerably more," Richard, of the health department, says.

National Breast Cancer Awareness Month represents a partnership of national public service organizations, professional medical associations, and government agencies working together to promote breast cancer awareness, share information on the disease, and provide greater access to screening services.

For more than a quarter century, NBCAM has been at the forefront of promoting awareness of breast cancer issues and has evolved along with the national dialogue on breast cancer, according to the health department.

With the founding of The Breast Cancer Research Foundation in 1993, the pink ribbon, which had previously been used to symbolize breast cancer, was chosen as the symbol for breast cancer awareness. Thanks to the success of this awareness event, for many people, the color pink and breast cancer awareness ribbons are now associated with breast cancer awareness, the health department noted in a news release.

For those concerned about the cost of mammograms, the Harford County Health Department's Breast and Cervical Cancer Screening Program offers no-cost mammograms to qualifying women who are Maryland residents, ages 40-64, have little or no health insurance and who meet the program's financial income guidelines.

For more information about breast cancer awareness or Harford County Health Department cancer prevention services, call the Office of Cancer Prevention Services at 410-612-1780 or visit their website at http://www.harfordcountyhealth.com.