October is finally upon us, and on every street corner, we can find simple, pink ribbons adorning the blouses, handbags and nail-art of women worldwide. This pink ribbon marks the beginning of National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, a month utilized to spread breast cancer awareness in hopes detecting the tragic disease in its early stages.
Breast cancer, next to skin cancer, is one of the most commonly diagnosed cancers in women. One in eight women will develop breast cancer within their lifetime, along with about one in 1000 cases in males.
According to the National Breast Cancer Foundation, “Every two minutes a woman is diagnosed with breast cancer, and one woman will die of breast cancer every 13 minutes.” Furthermore, the main causes of breast cancer are gender (i.e. being female) and aging.
This is a very sobering and dismal reality that women must wake up and face every day; some women even more than others.
As stated in the U.S Breast Cancer Statistics, “In women under 45, breast cancer is more common in African-American women than white women. Overall, African-American women are more likely to die of breast cancer.”
As an African American woman with a history of the silent killer entangled deeply within my family tree, fear of developing this disease remains rooted in the back of my mind. Several women within my family have had to cope with the foreboding pit they would feel in their stomachs upon receiving the diagnosis from their doctors.
Unfortunately, as there is no formal cure for breast cancer, I have lost two great grandmothers along with an aunt to this disease.
But as is the theme of National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, the diagnosis of breast cancer does not have to be a death sentence. Whether you have family history of the disease or not, it is still vital to take preventative measures and take the steps necessary to detect breast cancer early on.
You can lower your risk of being diagnosed with breast cancer by simply living a healthier lifestyle. Maintain a healthy weight, lower your alcohol consumption and refrain from smoking. In addition to this, stay active and consume a plethora of fruits and vegetables!
Along with these healthy lifestyle choices, the treatment of breast cancer relies heavily on detecting the disease in its earlier stages when its easiest to treat.
“Adult women of all ages are encouraged to perform breast self-exams at least once a month,” NBCF said. “Using the pads of your fingers, move around your entire breast in a circular pattern moving from the outside to the center, checking the entire breast and armpit area. Check both breasts each month feeling for any lump, thickening or hardened knot.”
This exam allows you to become familiar with the natural state of your breasts, so when an irregularity arises; you can alert your medical professional immediately.
In addition to this, it is essential to have a mammogram performed every two years to detect breast cancer if it is, in fact, present.
Many women are unfamiliar with the reality surrounding breast cancer and the steps that can be taken to detect it in its early stages, so simply raising awareness can be the push needed to save an abundance of lives.
Do not let this movement to spread breast cancer awareness die in October because the trials faced by women afflicted with this disease is not restricted to a single month. It is faced throughout a lifetime.
Written by Ashlyn Simons, Staff Writer. Photo Courtesy of Pixabay.
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