LI Breast Cancer Survivor Tracks Links to Environmental Issues

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About 264,000 cases of breast cancer are diagnosed in women and about 2,400 in men each year in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Approximately 42,000 women and 500 men in the United States die from breast cancer each year.

As one of those women diagnosed with cancer, Lorraine Pace overcame the odds and has since become a trailblazer by inventing the nation’s first breast cancer map. The Long Island resident received top honors for her battle with the disease.

Pace was undeterred after learning of her breast cancer diagnosis in 1992. Her condition became the fuel that ignited her mission to help others. It was a fight that started before she started treatment.

With the help of friends, family and government officials, she dove deep into investigating a possible link between her cancer diagnosis and the water supply in her West Islip neighborhood.

She tested the water and noticed that the white filter was turning brown, a sign of contamination. Pace began documenting his findings on colored posted notes. Each contained detailed information about a breast cancer diagnosis in the area. The data compiled at the creation of his map, the first of its kind. She hopes he can identify environmental problems that can cause cancer.

Since then, his mission has gone global. His crusade led to the signing of a bill allowing the public to access cancer diagnostics through Department of Health websites around the world. In honor of the 30th anniversary of the Breast Cancer Cluster Mapping Project, the American Cancer Society and Suffolk County officials gathered in Suffolk County to honor Pace for his advocacy work and announce the most nationwide march to end breast cancer.

Pace says the cancer came back after 17 years. She has also since treated three skin cancer diagnoses. But today she is cancer free and says early detection was key to her positive prognosis. She encourages women to have an annual mammogram.

“If you notice something is wrong, make an appointment with your doctor,” she said.

The Breaking Through Breast Cancer Walk is scheduled for October 16 from 7 a.m. to 12 p.m. at Jones Beach.​

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