We are reminded about breast cancer when we have friends/family affected by it. However, during the month of October, not a soul can miss the sea of pink that overtakes the western hemisphere. From the NFL (got to love those pink-striped cleats, and jerseys) to the average can of red and white labeled Campbell’s soup, which overnight becomes awash in hot pink and white!
Talking about breast cancer and wearing pink in support of awareness of the disease is one thing. However, being proactive to prevent it is another.
Did you know:
- One in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in her lifetime.
- Breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in women.
- Breast cancer is the second leading cause of death among women.
- Each year it is estimated that more than 220,000 women in the United States will be diagnosed with breast cancer and more than 40,000 will die.
- Although breast cancer in men is rare, an estimated 2,150 men will be diagnosed with breast cancer and approximately 410 will die each year.
So, what’s your part in all of this?
Current guidelines recommend annual mammograms for women starting at age 40. (Earlier for those with family history. Consult with your doctor.) Regular screening exams can help find breast cancer early, when it is more easily treated.
Unfortunately, this can be a roadblock for many women – some lack insurance, others are simply scared.
Women who are uninsured or underinsured should contact their local hospital/healthcare system or the local American Cancer Society for resources that may be available in their community. There are a variety of free or low-cost screening programs available.
For those women who are fearful, “Really, you want me to put that there, and you are going to compress my breast until it’s flat as a pancake? No way!” I say, “Yes way!”
Turn your annual mammograms into an excuse for a day spent with girlfriends –make appointments one after the other, grab some breakfast, and then head off for a day of shopping. Or take the last appointments of the day, and then head out to dinner with the girls. No one said the actual procedure is fun, in fact, I find I talk nonstop with the technician the entire time. But when it’s over and I receive the letter or email a few days later that all is well, I breathe a huge sigh of relief — at least for a few days, knowing that for the next 11 months it’s incumbent upon me (and all of you!) to perform breast self-exams. If you detect any changes, immediately contact your family physician.
Ladies, don’t let fear be your enemy on this – grab the phone today, make the call and schedule your annual mammogram – it could save your life!