Breast cancer research at risk amid the coronavirus pandemic

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month -- and while we're used to events that promote awareness, the pandemic has prompted a shift in plans. 

But now more than ever, it's so important to continue the fight against the disease.

As we know, a breast cancer diagnosis knows no pandemic.

"In 2020 here in Wisconsin, more than 5,000 women will hear those words, 'You have breast cancer,'" said Laurie Bertrand with the American Cancer Society. 

Jennifer Ott heard those words when she was just 40 years old.

"I had no reason to suspect I would be diagnosed with breast cancer," said Ott, a breast cancer survivor.

To make matter worse, she was a new mom. 

Her son was just 9 months old at the time of her diagnosis.

Her cancer was found in its early stages and she got treatment right away.

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Ott says the medication she took while waiting for treatment helped shrink the size of her tumor and helps prevent the cancer from coming back.

"I take it every day and it`s called Tamoxifen," said Ott. "It was found due to research that was funded by the American Cancer Society."

That daily pill is a reminder that nobody gets a pass, even during a pandemic.

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"I know three people just this past month who have been diagnosed with breast cancer," said Ott.

In fact, one in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer at some point in their life.

Those startling statistics are just some of the reasons Ott continues to advocate for the American Cancer Society.

Right now, donations are down, putting research at risk.

"If women don't have access to those diagnostic tools, like mammograms, they aren't going to be diagnosed early and their chance of survival plummets," said Ott.

After all, as we've seen over the last several months, life can change in an instant.

That's why this year's Making Strides Against Breast Cancer walk is more significant.

"It's our job this year, in this virtual space, no matter where you walk, how you walk, whether it's around the block, around your house, around your kitchen table -- it's about the spirit that you have in your heart and the passion you have for fighting breast cancer and we need everybody out there to feel that," said Bertrand.

This year, officials at the American Cancer Society are looking at a 50% reduction in cancer funding.

To take part in this year's virtual Making Strides Against Breast Cancer walk, CLICK HERE.

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