Don't forget the BOObs this spooky season!
Tomorrow is Halloween, marking the last day of Spooky Season and more importantly the last day of Breast Cancer Awareness Month. According to the CDC, female breast cancer ranks highest in the rate of new cases incurred yearly among women in the United States against all other cancer types. Female breast cancer also ranks second highest in its mortality rate against all cancer types in women in the United States. Breast cancer is one of the ugliest monsters out there and I am not sharing these facts to scare you. Rather, I am sharing them to remind you of the severity of Breast Cancer. A favorite quote of mine states that "Knowledge is Power", so rather than letting the threat of breast cancer frighten you, let the knowledge guide and be your power moving forward. I'm no doctor or PhD candidate, but I am a college student who has become keen on doing research. Thus, I have compiled the findings of my research to provide you with an article on the basics of breast cancer awareness.
What is Breast Cancer?
Breast cancer is a disease that is caused by rouge cells in the breast dividing uncontrollably. Contrary to what many may believe, all breast cancers are not the same. There are multiple types of breast cancer, each type dependent on the location of the cell in the breast region that becomes cancerous. Sometimes you may also hear about people having breast cancer in other organs of the body, which is common for higher stage breast cancer patients. This phenomenon occurs when cancerous cells originating in the breast travel throughout the body via the blood or lymph nodes to form tumors in other organs. You may also hear people refer to this process as metastasis.
People with breast cancer may experience symptoms such as lumps in the breast or armpit region, nipple discharge, pain in the breast region, among others. However, these symptoms are not direct indications of breast cancer and can result from other medical conditions. But to be safe, if you are experiencing any symptoms that are troubling and have access to a medical practitioner it would be smart to give them a call (better safe than sorry). If you are experiencing symptoms that worry you and do not have access to a medical professional, the CDC operates the National Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program which provides free or low cost (based on eligibility) screenings and diagnostic services to women who are uninsured or have low-income, so check their website to see if you are eligible and to locate the program in your area.
What are some risk factors for breast cancer?
There are many factors which can influence one's risk of acquiring breast cancer, some are genetic while others we can control. According to the American Cancer Society, some risk factors for breast cancer include:
Age - Women over 55 are more at risk for acquiring breast cancer than younger women.
Family History of Breast Cancer
Not engaging in Physical Activity
Use of Birth Control
There are many other factors that can increase a woman's risk of acquiring breast cancer in her lifetime so make sure that you do your research so that you can know what measures can be taken to decrease risk.
Preventative Measures for Breast Cancer
A few preventative measures that can be taken to decrease risk and detect any early signs of breast cancer are:
Regularly conducting self-exams (check out this 5-step guide from BreastCancer.org)
Getting a Mammogram every 2 years
Maintaining a balanced diet
Calling your doctor if you experience any early warning signs or symptoms
Lastly, if you or a loved one has been diagnosed with breast cancer don't know where to turn, know that you are not alone! There are a TON of resources out there for women living with breast cancer, I've taken the time to list a few so please familiarize yourself with them and share them with others who could use them!
Living Beyond Breast Cancer- "A nonprofit organization that connects people with trusted information and a community of support."
National Breast Cancer Foundation Inc - "We provide help and inspire hope to those
affected by breast cancer through early detection, education, and support services."
(This organization also sponsors the National Mammography Program where they partner with various facilities across the nation to provide free mammograms to women in need.)
Cancer Financial Assistance Coalition - "CFAC is a coalition of organizations helping cancer patients manage their financial challenges."
The American Cancer Society's Reach to Recovery Program - "If you have breast cancer, you may want to connect with someone who knows what you’re feeling – someone who has “been there.” Through the American Cancer Society Reach to Recovery program, you can have an online chat or a phone conversation with a trained volunteer who has survived breast cancer and understands what you are going through."
I hope that you are leaving this reading feeling empowered, full of insight, and inspired. I guess you can get back to your spooky season festivities now, but remember:
Whether your spending your Halloween with your boo or dressed up like a ghost and saying 'boo', DON'T FORGET ABOUT YOUR BOObs!
*I know that last line was a little corny, but I couldn't help it*