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      Breast cancer awareness spreads during October

      The month of October is dedicated to breast cancer awareness, and survivors and advocates alike are pushing the message of early detection.

      According to Dr. Rakhshanda Layeeqr Rahman of the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center, the cure rate for early breast cancer detection is 97 percent.

      "We have 200,000, right about that figure, number of cancers- breast cancers- in the country every year," she said. "And about 40,000 women die every year from breast cancer, so it's a huge health problem."

      Despite that problem, many women overcome the disease. Sharon Felts was diagnosed with breast cancer nearly 18 years ago. She was cancer-free after one year of treatment, six months of radiation and six weeks of chemotherapy.

      "Family definitely helps," she said. "I was open with my co-workers and with my friends about the experience. I opened myself up for their love and support and I think that really helped me a lot. I think support is really important."

      The women of the Texas Panhandle are nothing short of support from fellow survivors and advocates. Thousands of people gathered in Downtown Amarillo for the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure at the beginning of October. The Amarillo Fire Department is selling pink t-shirts during the entire month. Sororities at WTAMU dedicate their philanthropy to raising awareness for breast cancer. And those are only a few of the ways the people of the Texas Panhandle are coming together to offer their support.

      Felts says despite all the pain and worry, her experience was a positive thing and has left her with a gift to help others.

      "You're just a note of encouragement. I mean, it's encouraging to other women to meet a breast cancer survivor who has been a survivor for almost 18 years. That's the special thing I get to do and I really am thankful for that."