Way back in 2011, I came across the now obsolete tool called Google timeline by pure serendipity while doing some literature research. It plots the quantity of Google results related to breast cancer added to the cyberspace over time, and the month of October stood out like a suburban skyscraper. It then dawned on me that this burst of frenzied byte traffic must be due to the Pink Ribbon Campaign.
Since the Breast Cancer Awareness Month was conceived in 1985, many women have for one reason or another - guilt-tripped, tempted, or otherwise - been amassing pink products for 30 days in a year. I paid premium for everything from my compact camera, printer, wetsuit, dive computer, to kitchen towel and toilet paper, which needless to say, came in different shades of pink, and blamed it all on my research project, which deals with the genetics of breast cancer. Surely, I must support the very cause I am working for?
Slowly people are starting to realize that much hype has been focused on looking for a cure, and too little attention being spent on preventing or early detection of the disease and understanding what causes cancer in the first place. In my projects, I look into the book of life itself, scrutinizing at the DNA that defines us, for genetic differences that spell who is likely to get breast cancer, and who is not. Same goes for who is going to die from breast cancer, and who will die with breast cancer. The aim is to discover novel susceptibility markers and mechanisms, which are bits and pieces of clues essential to solving the puzzle of the disease. Knowing what makes the cancer bomb ticks will ultimately be helpful in stratifying the population according to the likelihood of getting the disease, so that resources can be reallocated to individuals at high risk more often than those with below average risk of getting breast cancer.
October or not, the fight against breast cancer goes on.
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