Nearly 1,100 New Mexican women are diagnosed with invasive breast cancer each year, and another 220 die from the disease, according to the University of New Mexico Cancer Research and Treatment Center. In order to raise breast cancer awareness, the UNM Cancer Center is teaming up with the University of New Mexico men’s basketball team and the UNM Hospitals for the February 20th game against Air Force, tip-off is at 1:30 p.m. in The Pit.
Fans are encouraged to wear pink in show of their support for breast cancer patients and survivors. The aim of the Lobos’ “Think Pink” game is to raise breast cancer awareness on the court, across campuses, in communities and beyond.
The UNM Cancer Center will also host a special private reception for 150 breast cancer survivors and patients along with their families and friends to celebrate and honor breast cancer survivors. Former patients will be given special shirts to recognize their battle with cancer, and will be acknowledged at halftime.
The UNM Cancer Center and the Lobos understand that early detection is vital in increasing the chances of breast cancer survival. One in every eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime. New Mexico has the second-lowest rate in the nation for women age 40 years-old and older who receive breast cancer screening. Survival for Hispanic and American Indian women diagnosed with breast cancer has decreased because of the lack of mammogram screening and early detection.
In addition to acknowledging breast cancer survivors during the game, the UNM Cancer Center will also honor the Pojoaque Lady Elkettes volleyball team and their coach, Brian Ainsworth, who raised more than $5,000 for breast cancer research at the UNM Cancer Center. The Lady Elkettes wore pink uniforms during the “Dig Pink” fundraising event in honor of Melissa Ainsworth, their coach’s wife, who was diagnosed with breast cancer in August.
The UNM Cancer Center is the Official Cancer Center of the State of New Mexico, and one of only 65 National Cancer Institute designated cancer centers in the nation. It is home to 85 board-certified oncology physicians representing every cancer specialty and more than 120 research scientists hailing from such prestigious institutions as M.D. Anderson, Johns Hopkins and the Mayo Clinic.