Kathy A Dahlkemper

Breast Cancer Awareness - Oct. 7, 2009

Kathy A Dahlkemper
October 07, 2009— Washington, D.C.
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Thank you so much for asking me to join you tonight as we have this very Special Order hour to honor Breast Cancer Awareness Month and to recognize those that battle breast cancer across this country. But more than that, we're here to deliver an important message to the American people tonight.

Not only are we on your side in the fight against breast cancer, but we are one with you in the fight against breast cancer. We are one with you not simply because we believe in your cause and to share your goals, and it's not only because we empathize with your hardship, we are one with you because breast cancer is just as real for us as it is for millions of Americans across the country.

This disease, as it's been said tonight, knows no boundaries, knows no borders. It's blind to race, socioeconomic status, and age, and it certainly does not care whether you are a Member of Congress. All in all, nearly 150,000 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer this year, and more than 40,000 women will, sadly, succumb to the disease.

But what do these numbers really mean? They are certainly alarming and give us pause, but the truth behind these numbers is that 150,000 families will confront a crisis this year; 150,000 families will be subjected to the fear they may lose a mother, a sister, a daughter or a dear friend, and 40,000 families will see that fear become a reality.

Like so many American women, breast cancer became a real cause of concern for me, but I was one of the lucky ones. When my doctor told me I needed a biopsy to check for breast cancer, I was scared and worried what it would mean for my family. But, thankfully, breast cancer never became a reality for me. My biopsy came back clear.

Other women I know were not as lucky as I. Numerous friends have lost their mothers to breast cancer. Witnessing our loved ones suffer is a pain that cannot be accurately described. And that's why we are here, to honor Breast Cancer Awareness Month and to show our solidarity with the hundreds of thousands of women battling breast cancer now and celebrate the more than 2 1/2 million women who are breast cancer survivors.

I would like to share with you some stories from real women from the Third District of Pennsylvania.

Cindy Hanna of Mercer County was 38 years old when she was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2003. Cindy was one of the lucky ones. She had a mammogram on her doctor's recommendation that caught her cancer early, and she is now a breast cancer survivor.

Cindy shared her experience in the Sharon Herald paper. She quotes: ``I had no symptoms. I wasn't even thinking cancer. My cancer was very close to my spine, and if I had waited until I was 40, like most doctors recommend, who knows what would have happened.'' Cindy is now the coordinator of the Medical Equipment Recycling Program at UPMC Horizon in Farrell. This month she is tying pink ribbons in towns across her county to help raise awareness and encourage women to get mammograms early, like she did.

Sue Kilburn of Meadville, Pennsylvania, was diagnosed with breast cancer when she was in her late 40s after an annual mammogram. Her doctor told her she had to choose between a lumpectomy and a mastectomy to treat the disease. She shared her journal with the Meadville Tribune Newspaper, and she writes:

``The words ring out unlike anything I have ever experienced before. I find no anger, just feel numb, dumbfounded and questioning how? When? It was just a routine mammogram.''

She survived her battle with breast cancer, and now she works as a clinical nurse breast care educator at the Yolanda G. Barco Oncology Institute. The position is funded through a grant from the Susan G. Komen Foundation.

Cindy and Sue are heroes. They are survivors. And they are committed to helping women beat breast cancer. For Cindy and Sue and thousands like them, early detection saved their lives. Because they had regular mammograms, their cancer was detected early. When tumors are detected early, we know they are nearly 100 percent treatable.

This Breast Cancer Awareness Month, let's encourage the women in our lives, our mothers, our sisters, our daughters, and friends, to get a mammogram. Early detection saved Cindy and Sue, and that's why I support the EARLY Act. Let's work together to make their stories the story for every woman diagnosed with breast cancer.

I thank you.

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