There is a good chance you know someone who has fought a battle or had a scare with breast cancer. Breast cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in women, exceeded only by lung cancer. Behind skin cancer, it effects the highest number of women. However, since 1989, the death rates from breast cancer have been declining as a result of better treatment and earlier detection through screening and increased awareness. Right now, according to the American Cancer Society, there are more than 2.8 million breast cancer survivors in the United States.
With all of that being said, October is National Breast Cancer Awareness month. People around the country, organizations, associations, brands, etc. will be working together this month to promote breast cancer awareness, share information on the disease, and provide greater access to services as well as raise money for funding programs and helping to find a cure. In a sport like tennis that is dominated by strong women at every level, this cause hits home for tennis players all over the world. For me, the cause is a personal one. In 2009, one of my favorite people passed from breast cancer — she was an amazing person, a mother, a grandmother, a wife, a sister, a pillar of strength, and a tennis player. Rosemary, a 4.0 player from Palm Desert, one of my Mom’s best friends and USTA teammate, and someone I considered family. Watching her battle the cancer made me realize how scary and devastating this disease can be and how it can hit anyone. Throughout it all, she kept a smile on her face and a racquet in her hand, whether it was playing when she was feeling strong, watching her granddaughters take lessons, or enjoying tennis at the BNP Paribas — Rosemary was a tennis player through it all. Sadly, in the last 5 years, the number of tennis players that I personally know that have been diagnosed with breast cancer has gone up significantly. Breast cancer has even hit the WTA when tennis legend, Martina Navratilova, an image of strength and health was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2010. What she described as her “own personal 9/11.”