October is a month known for sweaters, pumpkins and fall leaves. It is also Breast Cancer Awareness month, a time when we rally around survivors, family, friends and remember those who lost their battle to the most common form of female cancer. So what do we need to be aware of?
1. Mammograms and other early detection methods can save a life.
The American Cancer Society says,
Breast cancer is the most common cancer among women in the United States (other than skin cancer). But millions of women are surviving the disease thanks in part to early detection and improvements in treatment.
The National Cancer Institute put out a pretty comprehensive guide to some of the changes women might see in their breasts. Some are normal, some seem normal but probably should have a doctor check them out. Being afraid to find out you have breast cancer will not stop you from having breast cancer so take steps to regularly check in with yourself, visit your primary care doctor and stay in the know about what is normal and what is not.
2. Know the fact.
It is estimated that in 2015, about 40,290 women will die from breast cancer and 231,840 new cases of invasive breast cancer will be diagnosed in women. Unlike lung or skin cancer which can often be correlated to smoking or exposure to the sun, breast cancer has risk factors that are harder to nail down. Being a woman increases your risk, though men are not exempt from developing breast cancer. Family history, race, hormones associated with pregnancy, menstruation and birth control can all contribute and then again not. Starting your period before the age of 12 or being caucasian may mean you are more likely to develop breast cancer, while a higher percentage of african american women will die of the disease. The takeaway here? It is important to know the facts when it comes to detecting risk factors and your vulnerability to developing breast cancer. Being aware and being informed is a great tool in your arsenal against this terrible disease.
3. Get involved for a cure.
There are a variety of ways you can contribute to help eradicate breast cancer. Giving financially is definitely an option. The American Cancer Society and the National Cancer Institute have ways for you to do so but you can also get involved by participating in or running a fundraiser event, donating things like unused vehicles or air miles, volunteering at hospitals and rehabilitation centers. Don’t doubt that caring for a person’s mental and emotional needs during recovery is just as important! A report from the Institute of Medicine stated that states “psychosocial care ‘…addresses the emotional challenges that can accompany a serious illness as well as the life challenges that can prevent good health care and patients’ ability to take care of themselves.'”
The report confirmed the importance of concentrating on psychosocial needs and found that failure by a healthcare provider to address these needs of cancer patients and their caregivers “is a failure to effectively treat [the] patients’ cancer, plain and simple.”
Find a way to give back authentically, whether that is financially or with time and presence. All of it goes a long way to fighting back against breast cancer!
Have you or someone you know been affected by breast cancer? How do you honor that reality? This month, we are ecstatic to celebrate the lives of men and women touched by this terrible disease and the bravery exhibited throughout!