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Column: Think pink can have universal application

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THE pink movement has spread like wildfire.

Today it envelops the globe. It can be seen in a variety of forms — office memos urging workers to wear pink today; professional football players sporting pink gloves and even pink ribbon emblems on their helmets; the color of the pages of The Republic today ...

This is the third year this newspaper has changed its format in an effort to bring attention to a subject that in some form or other will touch the lives of everyone who reads its pages: breast cancer.

Obviously we are not alone in this attempt to increase awareness about the disease and steps that can be taken to detect its presence.

The worldwide movement has had an impact. Close to home it was reflected after the first Pink Purpose day in 2010 when Columbus Regional Hospital officials reported a dramatic increase in the number of women who availed themselves of the opportunity to be screened for early signs of the disease.

It has also served to change attitudes about the disease in a variety of ways, bringing hope about the treatment of a disease many had assumed would be terminal, exposing myths about its incidence — yes, breast cancer can happen to men — and empowering people to share their experiences.

But the pink brand does not have to be limited to the subject of breast cancer.

One aftereffect to the enormous attention paid to the disease through the pink movement has been a concern that breast cancer is being overemphasized at the expense of other diseases.

While this attention is largely concentrated in a narrow time frame, there is no question that it has significantly raised awareness about this one issue.

That is not to say that other cancers and diseases have been ignored. Throughout the pages of this newspaper we regularly feature stories about the incidence and treatment options for these illnesses and provide information as to how to be screened for them.

Sadly, there are so many that to single out each for the kind of concentrated attention given to breast cancer would be impossible. In some respects though, the pink movement can serve as a universal rallying effort to address all diseases.

There is some evidence that it has already achieved that purpose, motivating individuals to assess their own health on a broader basis. It has empowered some to be on the alert for problems affecting their heart, lungs, liver and other body parts.

It has led some to their doctor or medical clinic to be screened. It has also convinced many to adopt healthier lifestyles.

It has saved lives, and that fact alone is worth all the attention it has been given.

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