Why today’s newspaper is pink

Today is National Mammography Day. Pink is the universal color of breast cancer awareness, so we’re shading the pages of our Friday paper pink to shine an even brighter spotlight on the cause.

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The cover of today’s Chicago Sun-Times.

Sun-Times Media

Today is National Mammography Day, first proclaimed by then-President Bill Clinton in 1993. The entire month of October is dedicated to making people more aware of the importance of early detection of breast cancer, and the third Friday of this month is focused on women scheduling mammograms.

All month long, the Chicago Sun-Times is joining forces with UChicago Medicine, ABC7 Chicago and the American Cancer Society to help spread the word about this important day and month. All pages of today’s paper are being shaded pink — the universal color of breast cancer awareness — to shine an even brighter spotlight on the cause.

The statistics are overwhelming: One out of every eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer at some point in their lives.

I am one of the one in eight.

I’d started getting mammograms at age 40, as recommended, and was told I had breast density that often makes breast cancer harder to detect. I continued undergoing mammograms for the next eight years. Eventually, the test showed I had precancerous tissue, and I underwent a lumpectomy to treat it.

Every six months thereafter, I went in for breast cancer screenings, alternating between MRIs and ultrasounds. And every six months over an 18-month period I would get the phone call telling me that everything was clear. That I was OK.

In September 2012, I was at an out-of-state business meeting when I recognized the phone number. I excused myself, anticipating I’d quickly get the all-clear sign from the nurse and be back in the meeting in a jiff.

“Hi Pamela, are you somewhere you can talk?” the nurse told me.

Then, she told me four stomach-churning words: “You have breast cancer.”

I was in a state of denial, fear and loss of control. The conversations I had to have with my husband, children, sisters and colleagues to share the news seemed both abnormal and surreal.

But the multitude of nurses, doctors, surgeons and medical personnel became a family to my own family during my cancer journey, providing kindness and support that helped get me through it all.

I was diagnosed with Stage 1 breast cancer, underwent a mastectomy and then an arduous three-month recovery. I’ve been cancer-free for seven years, all because I listened to my team of physicians, stayed consistent with my mammograms and got an early-stage diagnosis that saved my life.

Our pink paper is a reminder of the importance of mammograms, whether for you, your wife, mother, daughter, sister or friend. We’re donating a portion of profits from single-copy sales of today’s paper to the American Cancer Society and will be handing out breast cancer awareness wristbands outside the Union, Ogilvie and Millennium train stations this morning.

So, buy one, five or 10 additional pink papers to send to friends and family, and help us spread the word!

Together, we can answer cancer.

Pamela Henson is senior vice president of sales and marketing for the Chicago Sun-Times.

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