MARY KAY VERHOFF, LimaHope: It’s such a small word, but a powerful word that millions of women live with each day as they face a diagnosis of breast cancer. That hope is even more powerful today with the vast array of technology available to help diagnose and treat breast cancer. Those tools, however, are only as powerful as their utilization.There is a nationwide trend toward a decrease in women getting mammograms. Researchers speculate this is because of a lack of insurance and women not regularly seeing their physicians since many no longer use hormone replacement therapy. For whatever reason, this disturbing trend of noncompliance with mammography will ultimately have an effect on the probability of survival for many women.The five-year survival rate for localized, early stage breast cancer is 98 percent. If the cancer has spread regionally, however, the rate is 84 percent, and for women with distant metastases the rate is 27 percent.No diagnostic tool is perfect, but mammograms are still the gold standard for detecting cancer at an early stage, most often before any physical symptoms develop.Breast cancer awareness has made great strides over the past two decades, but the commercialization of “Think Pink” has caused many women to be complacent with the disease. The message is getting lost in a sea of pink ribbons. Look beyond the ribbon and see the many faces of breast cancer in your family, friends and neighbors.If you are 40 or older and have not had your annual mammogram, I encourage you to schedule one today. If you don’t have insurance, you may qualify for one of several grants that are available. For information about these grants, you can call the Women’s Preventive Healthcare Project at 419-224-4500. They serve a seven-county region and receive funding from the Center of Disease Control and the Komen Breast Cancer Foundation.An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Get a good start to your year by making sure that you have a mammogram and a clinical breast exam by your healthcare provider.Mary Kay Verhoff is director of the Women’s Wellness Center at St. Rita’s Medical Center.