October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month

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To you, the photo below may look like an ordinary mother/daughter picture, but to me it represents the day my mother told me she had breast cancer. I will never forget this day and the earth-shattering news—all I could think was that I may lose my mother. Immediately, I googled her diagnosis and that was a horrible idea. I was scared and worried about what the future would hold.

Fast forward to now, five-and-a-half years after this picture: my mom is thankfully here, and cancer-free after doing radiation treatment. I feel so lucky that she is still here today because I don’t know what I would do without her. Because of this experience with my mom, it is so important to me that I am aware of the warning signs and detection.

Breast Cancer Statistics

Do you know that breast cancer is the second most common cancer among women in the United States? About one in eight women in the U.S. will develop invasive breast cancer during her lifetime. Yes, these are scary statistics, but I am here to help inform you about what signs/symptoms to look for, how early detection can provide better outcomes, what prevention measures you can take, and what you can do to help the fight.

Breast Cancer Warning Signs

The warning signs are not the same for everyone. It is recommended to see a health provider if you have any of these warning signs:

  • A change in the look or feel of the breast
  • A change in the look or feel of the nipple
  • Nipple discharge

Screening and Detection

Screening tests are used before breast cancer causes any warning signs. Regular screening tests can help increase your chance of early detection of breast cancer. Breast cancer screening tests include mammography, clinical breast exam, and breast MRI. Follow these links to learn more about each type of screening test:

Risk Factors and Prevention

On the Susan G. Komen website, this table shows many of the risk factors that increase risk, decrease risk, and lists things that are unrelated to risk.

What can you do to help lower your risk of breast cancer? Cancer has a variety of factors. There are some things we can control and lower our risk, and others that can’t be controlled, for example, being a woman and aging. Healthy lifestyle choices have been shown to help lower your risk. The following are ways to help decrease your risk:

  • Be physically active
  • Achieve and maintain a healthy weight
  • Limit alcohol intake
  • Eat fruits and vegetables

Learn more here about how healthy lifestyle choices can help to lower your risk of breast cancer.

Getting Involved

I am so grateful we still have “Nana” here and she can see her grandchildren grow up.

The Susan G. Komen organization was founded in 1982 by Nancy G. Brinker. Her promise was to her dying sister, Susan, that she would do anything in her power to end breast cancer. The Susan G. Komen organization addresses breast cancer on multiple fronts including research, community health, global outreach, and public policy initiatives to help fight this disease. Race For The Cure is an education and fundraising event for breast cancer. Find a race near you or you can donate here to help the fight.

I hope this information helps to keep you informed about this disease. Please look out for symptoms, do your monthly breast exams, and get help as soon as you notice any changes. Early detection through screening saves the most lives. There are plenty of resources and organizations beyond the ones listed here, this is just a starting point.

 

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