Breast Cancer awareness month is still in full force. There are pink lids on Yoplait yogurt, pink vacuums at Target and reminders all around us that breast cancer is a serious issue. I remember this month so well prior to having breast cancer. I looked at it as an outsider and felt sad for those touched by the disease. But I never thought I would be one of them. It never occurred to me that I should be really serious about breast self-exams. So, frankly, I never really did them. And many of my blog readers know how my story goes. I seriously hope that those of you who know me and have my been reading my blog no longer take breast self-exams lightly. Even if you do not have a family history, you can get breast cancer. You do not need to be overweight to get breast cancer. You do not need to smoke to get breast cancer. Yes. Those things increase your risk. In my case, I did have a family history. And while it felt distant, it really wasn’t. My inherited genetic mutation caused my breast cancer. But the key is I did not know it existed. So my message to all of you women is do breast self-exams monthly. Be diligent about your health screenings. Be your own health advocate! 1 in 8 of us will get breast cancer. Let’s make sure to catch it at the earliest possible stage. And let’s keep working so that our children and our children’s children will not have to think about a 1 in 8 statistic.
I was just sent a link to a blog in the NY Times entitled “When Breast Biopsies Aren’t Necessary.” The blog states that waiting 6 months for a follow up after a “probably” benign lesion is a safe option. It goes on to say that of the 45,000 women that were followed only 1 in 100 were eventually diagnosed with cancer 6 to 12 months later. According to my math, that’s 450 women that had cancer and delayed diagnosis risking the spread of deadly cancer cells. While I’m not a doctor, I think I can reasonably comment on this. I was one of those women told to come back in 6 months. While my mammogram didn’t show anything, my ultrasound showed a “probably” benign something. Thankfully, I didn’t wait. Both my doctor and I decided any lump in your breast is one that shouldn’t be there so we scheduled surgery and you know the rest. I’ve later heard over and over again that a palpable lump needs a biopsy, and I will continue to spread this message. We have to be advocates of our own health. We cannot let people tell us to wait 6 months because we are all at risk for being the one cancer case that goes undiagnosed. If we are that “1”, the statistics mean absolutely nothing. Breast cancer is treatable and curable but the earlier it’s caught the better. We have to be aggressive with diagnosing and equally aggressive with treatment. I intend to live for a very long time, and I am thankful that my cancer was diagnosed before it was too late.