October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
Have you hugged your "girls" lately?
Breast Cancer. Those two little words have had a huge impact on my life. In November of 2007 I had a routine mammogram and an abnormality was detected in my right breast; atypical ductal hyperplasia is what they called it; effectively one stage removed from cancer. In February of 2008 I had surgery to remove that abnormality. I thank God everyday that it wasn't cancer...yet. But, had I not had the routine screening and had I just skipped my exam, it is very likely that with the passing of time I would be telling a different story today.
Not long after my surgery, my best friend Theresa (who is in her mid 20's) discovered a lump in her breast and unfortunately, hers was cancer. I will never forget the day when she told me the news. My heart skipped a beat as I held my breath and we both cried. Her journey after that fateful day has been long and arduous, but I am happy to report that today she is a Survivor and is Cancer Free! She is an amazing woman and supporting her on the road through her cancer treatment has taught me so much and has affected me in so many ways:
- I have learned about true strength and determination.
- I have learned about true love, support and encouragement.
- I have learned to put things into perspective and to not sweat the small stuff (even if I still do sometimes, I have grown.)
- I have learned about unwavering faith and about the blessings that come wrapped in a cancer wrapper.
- I have learned what is important and what is not.
- I have learned, by watching her, about true grace and beauty that comes from within.
- I have learned that there are still many very good people in the world; complete strangers even, that are willing to lend a hand of support and encouragement.
- I have learned that in this life you should make every single day count.
- I have learned about true friendship and what it means.
- I have learned NOT TO SKIP YOUR ANNUAL WELL WOMAN'S EXAM.
My brush with Breast Cancer changed my life; but Theresa's Breast Cancer changed me even more. I love my friend and I thank God everyday for her friendship, but more importantly I thank God that she is cancer free.
In honor of Theresa's journey will you PLEASE examine your own breasts TODAY and remind your friends to do the same. Schedule that mammogram that you have been putting off. Make the call. If you won't do it for yourself, or for me, or for Theresa and millions of women just like her, maybe these statistics will convince you:
Death rates from breast cancer have been declining since about 1990, with larger decreases in women younger than 50. These decreases are believed to be the result of earlier detection through screening and increased awareness, as well as improved treatment.Besides skin cancer, breast cancer is the most common cancer among American women,
The chance of developing invasive breast cancer at some time in a woman's life is a little less than 1 in 8 (12%).
About 192,370 new cases of invasive breast cancer will be diagnosed in women in 2009.
About 62,280 new cases of carcinoma in situ (CIS) will be diagnosed (CIS is non-invasive and is the earliest form of breast cancer) in 2009.
About 40,170 women will die from breast cancer in 2009.
Breast cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in women, exceeded only by lung cancer.
The chance that breast cancer will be responsible for a woman's death is about 1 in 35 (about 3%).
At this time there are over 2.5 million breast cancer survivors in the United States. (This includes women still being treated and those who have completed treatment.)
American Cancer Society, http://www.cancer.org/docroot/cri/content/cri_2_4_1x_what_are_the_key_statistics_for_breast_cancer_5.asp
Susan G. Komen for the Cure® recommends that you :
1. Know your risk
Talk to your family to learn about your family health history
Talk to your health care provider about your personal risk of breast cancer
2. Get screened
Ask your health care provider which screening tests are right for you if you are at higher risk
Have a mammogram every year starting at age 40 if you are at average risk
Have a clinical breast exam at least every 3 years starting at 20, and every year starting at 40
3. Know what is normal for you and see your health care provider right away if you notice any of these breast changes:
Lump, hard knot or thickening
Swelling, warmth, redness or darkening
Change in the size or shape of the breast
Dimpling or puckering of the skin
Itchy, scaly sore or rash on the nipple
Pulling in of your nipple or other parts of the breast
Nipple discharge that starts suddenly
New pain in one spot that doesn't go away
4. Make healthy lifestyle choices
Maintain a healthy weight
Add exercise into your routine
Limit alcohol intake
Thanks for supporting Breast Cancer Awareness month.