Important breast cancer information:
If you are at least 20 years old, you should be doing self breast exams. I know you may feel uncomfortable, or it may be difficult to remember, but do whatever you have to do to remind yourself! Put a note or sticker somewhere you will see it, or choose to do it on your birthday- date each month. If you are at least 40 years old, you need a mammogram every 1-2 years (every year after age 50). Men, please encourage the women in your lives to do this- it may save their life. When breast cancers are detected early, women have an excellent chance of survival. If you need a reminder on how to do a self- exam, check out this link that has step- by- step instructions.
I like to tell the women I screen that doing a breast self exam isn't really about following a rigid set of instructions or searching for cancer. Thinking of it that way can cause anxiety that may cause you to avoid even thinking about it. I recommend being aware of your body- becoming familiar with what is normal for you. Think of it as a way to have peace of mind. If you do notice a change, whether it be a lump, a change in color or texture of the skin on your breast, a change in shape or appearance of any part of the breast, or anything out of the ordinary that persists and doesn't resolve, you should have it checked immediately by a health care professional.
As women, we put so much of our energy into taking care of other people that we sometimes neglect to take care of ourselves. Please consider that you can best care for those you love by keeping yourself healthy! What I'm saying is that there really isn't any good excuse for not giving your health the attention it deserves.
If money or lack of insurance/ underinsurance is an issue, there are programs that offer free or low cost mammograms to women over 40 each year if you meet certain income requirements. The clinic I work at is one of these programs, and there are programs like this all over the U.S. You can check out the CDC’s website to find out if you qualify.
What can you do to help?
1. Get yourself screened.
2. Spread the word and encourage someone you love to get screened.
3. Show support this month for breast cancer awareness and those who have battled breast cancer by wearing pink or the BCA ribbon.