For those of you who don’t already know, October has been declared national breast cancer awareness month! Fundraisers and events are taking place across the country this month to raise awareness… for early detection, meaningful treatment, and ultimately to find a cure. I would guess that everyone reading this has been touched by breast cancer at one point in their lives… maybe a sister, coworker, Mom, or yourself?
Breast cancer is a far-reaching disease… More than 250,000 women under the age of 40 in the U.S living with breast cancer, and over 11,000 will be diagnosed this year. Every 3 minutes, there is a new diagnosis of invasive breast cancer. A woman has a 1 in 8 chance of developing breast cancer in her lifetime. Every 13 minutes, a life is lost to breast cancer.
I watched my Mom battle breast cancer 10 years ago… The day she was diagnosed, she called me at work and asked me to meet her at my house. She wouldn’t tell me over the phone. I remember walking into my living room and hearing those words slam into me “honey, I have cancer”. I remember practically collapsing to the floor from the fear gripping me… and I wasn’t the one facing the diagnosis. I can only imagine how she felt when her doctor shared her test results with her. It takes my breath away to even remember it – and she’s a very lucky survivor these days!
At the time that she was diagnosed, I had never had a mammogram. I was 29 and most health insurance policies won’t cover mammograms for anyone under 35. My Mom begged me through tears in her eyes to please go insist that my doctor refer me for a mammogram. I went to my doctor the very next week… after some fierce negotiation, she relented and referred me to a radiologist for my exam.
I can’t say I was thrilled with that first boob-smashing experience, but I did feel a huge sense of relief when it came back clear. Since then, I have not only kept up with my self-exams (shush, gutter-mind), but I’ve had a mammogram every single year. I dread the appointment for weeks before it happens (it coincides with my Pap exam as well, gaaaah), but I know how important it is to my health. I know that keeping up with my exams won’t prevent me from getting cancer, but statistics do show that early detection saves lives.
So – in this month of breast cancer awareness, I will be getting felt up by my doctor this Thursday afternoon and walking 26.2 miles in celebration of my Mom in the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer in just a few weeks…
What are YOU doing this month? And more importantly – are you current on your exams?