HUNTSVILLE, Ala. --October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and for doctors and organizations like the American Cancer Society, the most important thing they can do is use this time to educate the public.
This time of year, pink is Dr. Ali Hachem's favorite color.
"We're supposed to wear pink every day," he explained. "Sometimes it's a challenge, so sometimes we wear socks with pink colors, sometimes we wear the shirts and the necktie. The idea is so that people know that we are here for the cause."
Dr. Hachem and John Nicholson from The Cancer Center of Huntsville are doing the Real Men Wear Pink campaign throughout October, to raise money to be donated to the American Cancer Society.
"Some of it is used for research, some of it is used to assist patients and their families during treatments and things like that," said Dr. Hachem.
ACS Community Development Manager Kaki Morrow said the campaign is a great way to make breast cancer awareness more visible locally.
"Real Men Wear Pink is probably one of my favorite campaigns because we have so many men here in the community who have lent their platform to raise money for breast cancer awareness and research," she explained.
For Dr. Hachem, he is using it as an opportunity to educate. Breast cancer is one of the most common, but also one of the most treatable cancers.
"Because of that, it's important to increase awareness of the diagnosis of breast cancer, so people know there are a lot of things we can do in terms of screening so we can try to find the cancer very early on," he explained.
Prevention is key. There are different ways to do that, from starting mammograms slightly earlier than the usual recommended age of 40, or: "Yes screening is very important, but I need to stress this, lifestyle is very important," said Dr. Hachem.
He also urges women to always have professionals do their screenings.
"I think every woman should do self-examination, but I just want to warn patients don't rely on this as a tool to look for cancer, because truly it's just not enough," said Dr. Hachem.
One of the most common misconceptions Dr. Hachem wants to clear up is that a patient is too old for breast cancer screenings.
"It's not so much the chronological age, how old you are, but it's more important to look at this in terms of physiological age, meaning how healthy are you," he explained.
He said if doctors think you are living a healthy lifestyle in your later years, you should still consider screenings.
Another misconception, "People think, 'Well I've never had any of my family members have breast cancer, why should I worry about breast cancer?' and the answer is most breast cancer is not inherited and it's not genetic," said Dr. Hachem.
And it affects a large number of people here in the Tennessee Valley.
"Here in North Alabama last year alone we served over 3,200 patients. Any services that any cancer patients or their caregivers find themselves needing please don't hesitate to contact us," said Morrow.
For more information on the American Cancer Society and the services they provide, you can find their website here.
For a link to donate to Dr. Hachem's fund, or get involved with the Real Men Wear Pink campaign, you can click here.