Shades of Pink - Honoring Breast Cancer Awareness Month was written by Celeste Cooper-Peel.
Some things you never forget. I remember my mom’s breast cancer diagnosis like it was yesterday. She was only 42. Who would have thought? My mom found the lump herself and although it was cancer, she was lucky! It was removed via lumpectomy instead of mastectomy. At the time, this was a relatively new procedure and because her cancer was small and slow-growing, this was the best approach for her. Throw in a little chemo (that definitely comes with side effects) and radiation, she has been cancer-free for 25 years.
A decade after my mom’s diagnosis, both her sisters were diagnosed with breast cancer. In fact, after creating a visual family tree in 2007, I realized that cancer was splashed on my family canvas in colors of pink and teal (breast and ovarian).
As a wellness professional, my job is to promote education and prevention, but there is also a personal connection that creates a passion for bringing more awareness to breast cancer and even ovarian that unfortunately receives very little observance.
Breast cancer is the second most common kind of cancer in women. About 1 in 8 women born today in the United States will receive a breast cancer diagnosis. The good news is that many women survive breast cancer especially if it’s found and treated early, like my mom.
Monthly self-exams are the first step. About 15 years ago, I started a program that received a following. I am continuing to encourage the same concept this year. This October in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, I’m encouraging women to choose a date and find a “bosom buddy.” On this date, your buddy reminds you to perform your self-exam and you can remind her as well. This helps bring awareness to any possible changes in your body. Here’s a link to properly conducting your monthly self-exam. http://www.breastcancer.org/symptoms/testing/types/self_exam/bse_steps.
We can’t promote awareness without mentioning mammograms. Mammograms are recommended beginning at the age of 40 or earlier depending on your personal or family history. A mammogram can help find breast cancer early when it’s easier to treat. Although this screening device is great in women, I learned several years ago that it’s more difficult to detect cancer in women who have dense breasts. The question to ask is… “Are you dense?” Funny question, but it’s important to know your density. Talk with your provider to know what this means and other screenings that can complement a mammogram. Learn more at www.areyoudense.org.
Regarding ovarian cancer, only 1.3% of women are diagnosed. That doesn’t sound like much which is why awareness for this disease often goes unnoticed. There still is not a reliable routine test for detecting this cancer in the early stages. My family has certainly learned this over the years. Only 15 percent of women with this disease are diagnosed early. For those with a family history or known BRCA 1 or 2 genetic mutation (that could be another blog itself), it’s important to speak with a provider about certain screenings that can be performed annually since those with mutations make someone more susceptible to breast and ovarian cancers. I lost both my maternal grandmother and maternal great aunt to this disease. To learn more, visit http://www.ovariancancer.org/
So as the pink ribbons flow in the autumn breeze this October, I encourage you to honor yourself by nurturing prevention and cultivating awareness. I have found some great apps that can make anyone’s life easier. Visit these links.
http://b4bc.org/b4bcs-free-mobile-app-puts-breast-cancer-prevention-at-your-fingertips/ – prevention at your fingertips with monthly breast self-exam reminder, self-exam guide and wellness content
http://www.healthline.com/health-slideshow/top-breast-cancer-iphone-android-apps – 15 free and cheaply priced apps aimed at prevention
http://breastcancerfreebies.com/apps/ – free apps for detection, chemo reminders and more
Share this information and these links with your family and friends and have a “pink” October, but remember that awareness does not end after Halloween! SAS Employees may visit the Wellness Section of the RFC Newsleter for more information and resources.