Half of all men and one-third of all women in the U.S. will develop cancer during their lifetime, according to the American Cancer Society.
About 1,660,290 new cancer cases are expected to be diagnosed in 2013, and about 580,350 Americans are projected to die of cancer — almost 1,600 people a day.
In efforts to combat this, 2nd General Support Aviation Battalion, 227th Aviation Regiment, 1st Air Cavalry Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division, held a cancer awareness run at Hood Army Airfield on Oct. 25.
About 500 soldiers, family members and friends dressed in pink and yellow during the 5K walk/run and 10K run to show their support for cancer victims and survivors, including the battalion’s own Staff Sgt. Michael Collins.
“Today we conducted this run to increase cancer awareness and show support for patients, families, victims and survivors,” said Lt. Col. Jason Blevins, battalion commander. “The turnout was phenomenal. It’s very important to show support with events like this, and we want Staff Sgt. Collins to know we look forward to him returning to duty.”
During the event, the American Cancer Society passed out educational fliers and preventive care pamphlets, and Michael DeHart, a local cancer survivor and motivational speaker, offered words of encouragement for those affected by the disease.
Cancer remains the second most common cause of death in the U.S., accounting for nearly one of every four deaths.
For most types of cancer, the sooner it is found and treated, the better the chances are for living longer, according to the nonprofit.
“The threat is real,” said 1st Lt. Joshua Newberry, battalion communications officer. “I had an aunt who passed away in 2001 after six weeks of being diagnosed with cancer. Being young, you don’t realize cancer can take a person so quickly. I’ve been more aware ever since.”
The risk of developing most types of cancer can be reduced by changes in a person’s lifestyle, including avoiding tobacco, limiting time in the sun, being physically active, maintaining a healthy weight, limiting alcohol, and eating healthy, according to the cancer society.
Despite this, more than 13 million people living in the United States have had some type of cancer. Some of these people are now cancer-free, while others still have it. However, getting screened is still paramount in winning the battle.
After the cancer awareness run was completed, trophies were handed out for first place in several categories, and soldiers came together to clap in unison for those affected by cancer as words of encouragement were spoken.
“The support we received was outstanding and overwhelming from all units and family members,” said the battalion’s Command Sgt. Maj. Anthony Smoots. “Unity, teamwork and family, that’s what it’s all about. We honored our own Staff Sgt. Collins, and we look forward to him coming back to lead the battalion in a run.”