Breast Cancer Awareness Month: A new perspective

How we can help spread positivity and awareness


Angiola Harry / Unsplash

About 1 in 8 U.S. women will develop breast cancer in their lifetime. Just in 2021 alone over 250,000 cases of breast cancer are expected to be diagnosed in women and over 2,500 in men. The month of October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and it’s important as a community to spread positivity and awareness. 

Both the varsity and JV football team at Oak Park High School partake in spreading awareness for Breast Cancer to help better our school community as a whole.

“We will wear pink ribbon decals on our helmets and also wear pink socks,” OPHS football coach Casey Webb said. 

Coach Webb explained the main reason why he and the teams participated this year is for Brenda Pasqua, who was recently diagnosed with breast cancer. 

“This means a lot more when it hits home … and this year it hits home big time for us. We want to let her know we are here to support her and will fight alongside her,” Webb said.

Brenda Pasqua is the athletic trainer at OPHS. During this time, the school’s support has been really helpful for her, as well as a GoFundMe fundraiser created by Lisa Bregar to help Pasqua pay for medical bills. 

“Everyone has been constantly checking in and seeing how I’m doing daily. The school has been very flexible and helpful in making sure that I can take time to leave for medical appointments and covering my classes,” Pasqua said. 

The lengthy amount of treatments and testing can be extremely overwhelming and tiring. Depending on the circumstances doctor visits can occur anywhere between once a week to once every three weeks

“There are multiple doctors appointments with various types of doctors and tests to perform. One week you can have medical appointments everyday full of scans, biopsies, and blood work, while others you may have no appointments or just one,” Pasqua said. 

The process between first getting diagnosed and starting treatments is very different than some people  may think. Pasqua explains how doctors work together to help her and start treatments as a collaborative process. 

“Essentially you get a team of doctors working together and collaborating to decide and perform treatments. The treatments are also very dependent upon results of the multiple tests. With the most stressful part being that some of the test results can inform you that this will be something you will have to deal with the rest of your life or if there is a way to treat this and have a cure,” Pasqua said.

In some cases, breast cancer isn’t just an illness, it  also entails a learning process that patients can draw from in the  future. 

“The thing that I’ve learned most is just how huge our community support system is. Just knowing that there are numerous friends, family, and community members out there who have either been through this or just genuinely want to help make this process much easier to handle,” Pasqua said. 

Faina Leznik, an Oak Park resident, is also a breast cancer a survivor

“I felt a ball on my chest one day but put it off for a while. My daughter finally made me go to the doctors and at first they weren’t sure what it was from. They thought it could’ve been from a fall so they took some tests,” Leznik said. 

Breast cancer is formed when breast cells start to grow into a tumor, which is what Leznik was feeling on her chest. Early detection is the most important with treatment. 

“I was really scared at first. I went with my family doctor who gave me a monogram and he said that the test results weren’t good so I was sent to a surgeon,” Leznik said. 

The process of tests that people like Pasqua and Leznik have to go through can be overwhelming. Constant tests, treatments, navigating medical insurance, worry about cost and more. 

“I went through radiation and treatment for a while. I continued to see my oncologist until the blood tests didn’t show breast cancer anymore. When it finally didn’t, I was extremely happy. I called all my friends and family to tell them the news,” Leznik said. 

Survivors offer hope to anyone who is in the process of fighting breast cancer.  

“I’m a survivor and I’m so grateful and I hope that anyone who goes through this can get through it too,” Leznik said.