In 2010, an estimated 207,090 new cases of invasive breast cancer are expected to be diagnosed in women in the U.S., along with 54,010 new cases of non-invasive (in situ) breast cancer. That is about 1 in 8, or 12-13% of the female population in our country that will develop breast cancer over the course of the current year.
Shocking isn't it?
Everyday, we sit next to other women at work, walk by them in a store, smile at them across an intersection at a red light. Who knows, they may be that 1 woman in your group of 8. Maybe that 1 is you.
Even though it sounds like it should be only a woman's issue, Breast Cancer is not exclusive to one gender, men are not flying safely under the BC radar. About 1,970 new cases of invasive breast cancer will be diagnosed in men in 2010. That is less than 1% of all cases of breast cancer, but hey, it's still a number.
Now, enough with all of the data, the important thing to think about is how NOT to become one of those numbers, and if you do, what can you do about it.
October is National Breast Cancer Awareness month and as you can see, the numbers speak for themselves. Far to many of us are affected, whether it's a mother, a sister, an aunt. It could be your teacher, your boss, your neighbor. Whoever it is, they are not alone, and neither are you.
Prevention and awareness are the keys to getting the upper hand in this battle. We can't control what our opponent will do, but we can control how we let it affect us.
Ladies, it's simple, get your yearly mammograms! Do your self-breast exams, it only takes a couple of minutes and no one knows your body like you! Protect yourself, empower yourself, it's not hard, it's really that simple. Educate yourself on your risk factors. Yes, it's true, if you have a family history, it does increase your risk, but 70-80% of women diagnosed have had no family history of the disease. The most significant risk factors are being a woman and growing older. Really narrows it down doesn't it?
That means we all have an obligation to our husbands, our children, to ourselves to take control and advocate for yourself. We have the tools, we just have to know how to use them.
1. Schedule regular check ups for clinical exams and talk to your doctor about your particular risk factors and what you can do about them. That's why we sit in those waiting rooms for hours reading super old magazines and drinking bad coffee, so we can get those pearls of wisdom from someone who knows them!
2. Do self breast exams every month so you know if there are any changes,no matter how small those changes seem. You know yourself better than anyone! It's all in your hands... so to speak. For instructions please visit:
3. If you are over 40, a yearly mammogram is one appointment you can't afford to push off. If you're due, make the appointment today! Have a friend who also is due? Make it a day and go together, grab a mani-pedi after and brainstorm about how you can help.
If you have been diagnosed, talk to others that have been through it. Use their courage and strength to build onto your own. If you're having a rough day, reach out to others who have been there for support.
That is what our team is all about. We want to spread awareness and support like gravy on potatoes, jelly on toast, white on rice.... However you want to put it, that is why we are here. Keep your eye on the prize and get out there and raise some awareness. There is no time like the present, but the best present you can give is hope.
If you want to help, but don't know how... Ask one of our blog contributors or check out these organizations:
The American Society- www.cancer.org
National Alliance of Breast Cancer Organizations (NABCO) - www.nabco.org
National Breast Cancer Coalition (NBCC - www.natlbcc.org
National Cancer Institute (NCI) – www.cancer.gov
Susan G. Komen Foundation- www.komen.org
Being a hospice nurse, I have a different perspective than most when it comes to awareness. Everyday I hear the stories, see the lives of those who fight the courageous fight against breast cancer. Some may think that once these women have made their way to me the fight is over and lost, but in many ways it's only just begun. These women bring the truth and importance to the awareness movement-they are the ones that bring it to life. By sharing their stories with others, they are building a legacy. One that, as a team, we can carry for them.