October is the month when the world brings more awareness to breast cancer. But for me, each month is a reminder of how breast cancer can affect those we love. On March 1, 2013 my mom had a double mastectomy after a biopsy showed early signs of cancer. Luckily my mom has her mammograms performed yearly and the cancer was caught so early that she did not need radiation or chemotherapy.
Breast cancer is the most common cancer among American women, except for skin cancers. About 1 in 8 (12%) women in the US will develop invasive breast cancer during their lifetime.
The American Cancer Society’s estimates for breast cancer in the United States this year are:
- About 231,840 new cases of invasive breast cancer will be diagnosed in women.
- About 60,290 new cases of carcinoma in situ (CIS) will be diagnosed (CIS is non-invasive and is the earliest form of breast cancer).
- About 39,620 women will die from breast cancer
Because of these statistics and family history, I am very proactive when it comes to my health. Since I turned 40 a few years ago, I also got the heads up from my PCP that I would need to start getting my yearly mammograms done. I already knew what to expect since I’d had one done in High School because a lump (thank goodness it was benign) was detected. So off I went to have the “girls” violated and flattened like a pancake. But what I didn’t expect was the letter that reported “your mammogram needs to be further evaluated”.
Wait…what?!?! So I just thought maybe the tech was having an off day and they just needed a clearer picture. This lead to me having 2 more mammograms and ultrasounds. Each one showed a lymph node that clearer was not right. The next step was to meet with a breast specialist to determine the next course of action. Thankfully the results from that procedure was fine.
Even if you don’t have a history of breast cancer, remember to be proactive when it comes to your health and if you have any of these 7 warning signs, speak with your doctor:
- breast or chest pain
- itchy breast
- upper back, shoulder and neck pain
- changes in breast shape, size or appearance
- a change in nipple appearance or sensitivity
- swelling or lump in your armpit
- red, swollen breasts
Remember with early detection, the rate of survival goes up tremendously. And I’m so happy that my mom was able to catch and kick breast cancer right in the ass! I can’t stress how important it is to pay attention to your body. As women we always want to make sure everyone else is ok and sometimes we put our own health on the back burner. Now my other goal is to look as fabulous as my mom does in her 70s! LOL