Hi Friends! Breast cancer is the most common cancer among American women. Each year in the US, about 281,000 women get breast cancer and 43,000 women die from this disease (Susan G. Komen). To me, those numbers are one too many. As someone who have family members such as aunts who are survivors, it’s definitely hard on the family to watch a loved one go through treatment and the side effects of treatments it can cause. It is a glimmer of HOPE for me when I see my aunts maintain a positive outlook and a fight within them that keeps them fighting appointments after appointments, treatments after treatments. Such strength is awaken within them to keep fighting day in and day out. I’m sure we all know someone very close who has walked or fought breast cancer. We owe it to them and our future generation to do our part and stay aware.
I recently had a breast scare about a year ago where I was experiencing breast pains and what to me at the time felt like a lump. I was 33 at the time, and with anxiety, you can imagine I was a nervous wreck. I pressed through the fear and made an appointment with my OBGYN to have my breasts checked out. 5 years ago I had a breast reduction and I heard that the risk of breast cancer was low, but there’s still that “fear” when you feel sudden pain or when something just doesn’t feel right. I went to see my OBGYN as soon as they could get me in, and my doctor kept re-assuring that I did the right thing by calling the office and making an appointment. After my doctor conducted a breast exam, she asked me if I regularly checked my breasts every month or frequently, and I told her yes, but at times I feel like I’m not doing it correctly. Here is a great article on how to do a self exam at home. My doctor continued with the exam and what she felt was just some tissues, but wanted to be sure, so she scheduled me for my first ever mammogram and an ultrasound. I was freaking out! I went upstairs to have a mammogram, and surprisingly it wasn’t so bad.
I must admit during the ultrasound it was a bit nerve wracking as the nurse kept going over the same spot at one time and I kept looking at her with a look that screamed “What do you see!”. She then told me that she would send my images over to my doctor, but to remain calm. Which of course did not calm me down. My doctor called me the next day and told me that all of my tests came back normal. But, she wanted me to come back every 6 months just to be sure. Because of my age my insurance did not cover my mammogram, which is crazy because I feel that insurance should cover early prevention screening – another blog post for another day, right? Either way, I was thankful that I had a doctor who truly cared about my well-being and how I was feeling during the entire process. The pains did subside (I was told to limit my caffeine intake and keep my stress levels low) but I know now, more than ever if something doesn’t feel right – see a doctor anyway and mention at every doctor’s appointment your family’s history with any health issues.
So let’s talk a little more about breast cancer and how we as a community can be better informed and aware for ourselves and the many women in our lives such as our moms, aunts, grandmothers, sisters, daughters, and friends. Screenings, Mammograms, along with doing your self-exam at home are the best ways to find breast cancer early, making it easier to treat and having enough time before the signs of symptoms. Here is more info on how to learn about screening and risk factors & risk reduction.
So what are some symptoms you should be looking for? You or your doctor are looking for the following:
- Change in the size or shape of the breast.
- Pain in any area of the breast.
- Nipple discharge other than breast milk (including blood).
- A new lump in the breast or underarm.
I’m not a licensed physician, but if you notice one of the above, please contact your doctor immediately.
Here is how we can we lower our risk of breast cancer:
- Exercise daily (I really do try to move at least 30 mins 4-5 days a week)
- Don’t drink alcohol, or try to limit your consumption
- If you’re taking a hormone replacement or birth control pills, ask your doctor about the risks.
- Keep your annual OBGYN appointments and text your friends or family to remind them!
- Watch your weight
- Know your family’s health history
- Stay in the loop on all updates and awareness – education is key!
During the entire month of October, 5% from purchases at Vera Bradley with their latest prints, Hope Blooms, and Hope Blooms Pink will go towards the continuing education and research for Breast Cancer at the Vera Bradley Foundation for Breast Cancer Foundation. So far, Vera Bradley have raised $37.5 million dollars to this cause! You can support life-saving research with your purchase. Aim to wear pink, or your favorite “Hope Blooms” print throughout this month! Check on your family and friends and remind them to schedule their annual, and if they’re in the fight – remind them that you’re there with them cheering them on and shedding HOPE to them! Learn more about the Vera Bradley Foundation for Breast Cancer.
Let’s celebrate survivors in their families today and everyday! Let’s cling close to those who have lost a loved one to Breast Cancer!
Thank you for reading today’s post, and my prayer is that one day we will find a cure for Breast Cancer, but until then we can HOPE because together we can do so much! XO
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Here are some other helpful resources that you can take a look at or share!