Breast Cancer Awareness—The Facts, Early Detection, and Support
October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month—it’s important to educate women on what they can do to be proactive with their breast health as knowledge and early detection saves lives
In this article, we want to recognize all breast cancer survivors and the courage they draw upon to remain focused on the steps ahead toward recovery. You can read survivor stories on sharecancersupport.org.
We’ll also address the facts, early detection, and resources, ultimately providing an educational path to be proactive about protecting one’s breast health. Lastly, we all can learn how to become a better support system and have healthy conversations surrounding breast cancer with those we love.
All of the information below is provided by the National Breast Cancer Foundation, Inc.
First, the facts:
1 in every 8 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in her lifetime. While one cannot prevent cancer, it is essential to be proactive about our health.
In 2020, an estimated 276,480 new cases of invasive breast cancer will be diagnosed in women in the U.S. and 48,530 new cases of non-invasive (in situ) breast cancer. This year, an estimated 42,170 women will die from breast cancer in the U.S. There are over 3.5 million breast cancer survivors in the United States. Death rates from breast cancer have been declining since about 1990, in part due to better screening and early detection, increased awareness, and continually improving treatment options.
Second, early detection:
The National Breast Cancer Foundation has identified three steps you can take to be proactive about your breast health.
- Breast Self-Awareness. It’s important to become familiar with how your breasts normally look and feel. Knowing this will help you identify any changes in your breasts that should be reported to your healthcare professional.
- Well-Woman Exam. According to NBCF, it is recommended that women visit their family physician or gynecologist each year for a Well-Woman Exam. The Well-Woman Exam is a great opportunity to discuss any questions or concerns you have regarding your breast health with your health care provider.
- Mammogram. NBCF recommends that women ages 40 and older get a mammogram every year. A mammogram is an X-ray of the breast. It is a safe way to detect cancerous tumors and other abnormal breast conditions. Women who have screening mammograms have a lower chance of dying from breast cancer than women who do not have screening mammograms.
Again, being proactive about your health is the most beautiful and loving thing you can do for yourself. Continue reading by downloading “3 Steps to Early Detection“.
Third, become the best support system:
Perhaps someone you know—a loved one or dear friend was recently diagnosed with breast cancer or had been battling this disease for years. First and foremost, when facing a cancer diagnosis, a patient’s life can be suddenly flipped upside down, and many patients begin to lean on their friends and family for needed support. With any sickness, patients usually begin to feel alone. It’s essential to encourage healthy conversations.
However, it can be challenging to find the “right” thing to say as the “right” thing to say is different for everyone. To empower you to be the best support system, here are a few suggestions to approach those conversations:
- Follow their lead. We can’t assume that all cancer patients are ready to share their cancer journey, but always be there to listen when they are.
- Assure your loved one that you are there for them no matter what happens. Some people disappear when someone they know gets a cancer diagnosis. One of the worst things you can do is to avoid the person. Show you care by being there throughout the journey.
- Offer ways to help, for example, start a meal train or GoFundMe page. When creating a meal train, be specific. Go ahead and ask them what their family enjoys eating or if they have dietary restrictions. And, before starting a crowdfunding page, be sure to seek permission. For some individuals, they may want to keep the diagnosis private.
- Compliment by saying, “I’m so happy to see you today!” A small compliment delivered with meaning and a pure heart can lift anyone’s spirits.
Discover more dos and dont’s by downloading the e-book, “What to say to a Cancer Patient“.
The National Breast Cancer Foundation offers a valuable list of resources and guides from healthy living tips, breast health, knowing the symptoms, and more. Please find their Educational Guides here.
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