Breast cancer is an illness! It should not be used to define a woman’s body and spirit!! The two words are absolutely terrifying to hear!
Some woman are so afraid to talk about it and because of this fear; October has been designated as Breast Cancer Awareness month to make it easier, educate, support and take care of ourselves better! There is nothing more beautiful, than being a breast cancer survivor!
To begin a conversation with a family member or friend, here are a few Breast 1 on 1 tips:
- Get properly fitted for a bra, every six months. The right cup size is important.
- Your breast should have supple skin. Any area that swollen, thickened or inflamed – please see your doctor for a breast examination.
- Self breast examinations should be performed a week after your period ends.
- Schedule your appointments to see a your gynecologist and internal medicine physician, six months apart. This will allow a clinical breast exam every six months. Remember a breast examination should be performed, if not.. ask for it!
- Obesity amongst woman is high and the risks of breast cancer are increased, due to the tumors may be harder to feel. So this an incentive to begin shedding some pounds and scheduling annual mammograms to be more proactive.
- Don’t skip your mammogram this year! Yes.. self breast examinations should be performed, DO NOT STOP. A mammogram should be scheduled every year.
- When performing your monthly self breast examination, if you feel something different; don’t ignore it. Yes, fear sets in, push back the panic and get checked out! It may be benign, fibrocystic due to hormonal changes – a professional exam should be scheduled because every lump should be evaluated.
- If you have a bloody, pink or brown discharge from the breast, see your doctor immediately.
- If you are called back for a second mammogram, GO! It may be a scar tissue or a calcification which showed on the film!
- If a lump is detected, know your options. Women often automatically opt for a mastectomy. A less invasive surgery or avoid surgery altogether if a cancerous tumor shrinks presurgery via chemotherapy called the neoadjuvant treatment. It’s possible to change a mastectomy to lumpectomy if the treatment is successful.
- Breast reconstruction is an option too, don’t assume that is only for the rich and famous, a luxury item beyond budget. It is not considered cosmetic surgery, it’s restoration of a woman as close to her precancerous as possible; not just to remove the cancer. There are health insurance benefits who will cover, a check with your provider to ask these important questions, including the percentage that will be covered for the surgery.
- Remember…You always have the option to push for a second opinions or discuss reconstruction options when initially diagnosed.
- Often a breast cancer patient refuses to let family members or close friends know they have cancer. It is very important that support is provided and with all the visits, treatments and psychological emotions which will occur, the patient should not go through it alone.
Information provided by Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Ctr and Susan G. Komen for the Cure®