October is Breast Cancer Awareness month, which is a campaign that was developed and has been maintained by many of the major breast cancer charities in order to raise money for the research, prevention and hopeful cure of this disease. As it is the beginning of the month of October, I felt very strongly that this was an appropriate topic to cover, as it affects so many women in our country and others. As working women, we tend to postpone or neglect the preventative aspect of our health on many occasions. It is here that I will take the time to remind all of us that what you don’t know definitely can hurt you and being proactive and aware could save your life.
As stated in the Susan G. Komen for the Cure website, cancer takes twice as many lives as does AIDS across the globe. Seven million people or more die each year from cancer. It is estimated that ten million women from all over the world could die from breast cancer over the course of the next 25 years. I would not toss these figures out to cause fear, but merely to bring the reality of it home to all of us. It is now said that one out of eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer. That brings it home for me. The best way to fight breast cancer is to detect it early on. Detecting breast cancer early, which is the localized stage, gives a promising 5-year survival rate of 98%.
Avoiding risk factors such as smoking and unhealthy eating and lifestyle habits are one aspect of prevention towards cancer. A woman in her twenty’s should make sure to get a breast exam at least once every three years. If there are additional genetic risk factors and there is cancer in your family, it is important to talk to your doctor about whether you should step up your screenings. A woman in her thirties will want to continue those breast exams as well as make sure to do her own self-checks regularly. A woman in the age bracket of forties and older needs to be more vigilant than ever about prevention. It is important to schedule a mammogram as well as clinical exam and also do self-checks.
I encourage everyone to set their calendars for their annual appointments without delay. Call your doctor to discuss what the best precautions are for you.
For more information on breast cancer, please go to the following websites:
“When you do nothing, you feel overwhelmed and powerless. But when you get involved, you feel the sense of hope and accomplishment that comes from knowing you are working to make things better.” -Maya Angelou