If you see me with pink streaks in my hair this month, it’s because for the last three decades in the United States, October has been Breast Cancer Awareness month.
Charities like the Susan G. Komen Foundation and the American Cancer Society sponsor walks for cures and raise money for “research, community health, global outreach and public policy initiatives in order to make the biggest impact against this disease.”
According to the American Cancer Society, projections for breast cancer in the United States in 2021 are staggering:
- About 281,550 new cases of invasive breast cancer will be diagnosed in women.
- About 49,290 new cases of ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) will be diagnosed.
- About 43,600 women will die from breast cancer.
At this time, there are more than 3.8 million breast cancer survivors in the United States. This includes women still being treated and those who have completed treatment.
Mammography and early detection have helped decrease the mortality rate of breast cancer but unfortunately, there are health disparities concerning the disease. Although black women have fewer incidences of breast cancer, they have a higher mortality rate, possibly because of a lack of access to care and lack of early detection.
Common age of diagnosis for HER-2 positive breast cancer is under 40. Mind you, this is a specific type of cancer and does not represent the common age of diagnosis for all breast cancers.
Physicians have pointed out the incidence of unnecessary mammograms increased with self breast exams, so they are no longer recommended. I would say it’s important to know your breast. It’s normal to have monthly changes in your breast based on hormones. These cyclic changes will be pretty consistent. Also, as a general rule, painful nodules or lumps point more toward infection rather than cancer. But as always, trust yourself and your gut and get checked out if you notice something out of the ordinary.
Give A Helping Hand
My mom is a breast cancer survivor with over ten years cancer-free. We are so thankful for early detection and having her with us. Every survivor has their own story of surgery, treatment, and/or recovery. It is a difficult road to watch, let alone go through.
I would challenge us all to find a way to help those who need it, not just in October or for breast cancer but in general. My mom is the first person to offer to sit with someone that will be alone during treatment or to drive to a doctor’s appointment with them. She wants to offer solace, and I think that that mindset is something to emulate. There are a million ways to help others.