On Mourning

Jesus mourning with Mary and Martha. Photo from lds.org

Jesus mourning with Mary and Martha
Photo from lds.org

Since the election last week, I’ve spent a lot of time pondering, internalizing and processing. I’ve struggled with confusion, with fear, anxiety, anger pain and a lot of sadness. A lot of those feelings have come from witnessing the brutality and hatred directed toward so many people that I love and respect dearly. Normally, I prefer to remain silent about topics like politics and religion because joining those types of conversations causes me great anxiety. But this week I feel compelled to speak up, to share and publicly own what’s in my heart. Please understand that this is a vulnerable thing for me to do, but I share because of some compulsion outside of myself. I’ve tried to ignore it, but I know this is something I need to do. I hope that you’ll understand that what I say is more of a personal epiphany than anything else, so it’s not meant to point fingers. However, in a world where inaction has consequences, I’ve realized that I can’t sit back in the shadows anymore and listen to the war of words around me without taking action. I need to be an active participant, and although this is a small step, it’s how I’d like to start. So here goes.

When I was 8 years old, I made a commitment to God that I would mourn with those who mourn and comfort those who stand in need of comfort. I made a commitment that I would do my best to bear the burdens of those around me. I have tried hard to keep this commitment, but I’ll be the first to admit that I haven’t always lived up to it as fully as I should. I know hundreds of others who have made the same commitment that I’ve made, and I’ve also seen many of them failing to live up to this commitment (I’m not pointing fingers, merely making an observation). The amount of “get over it already” comments, and “we had to deal with so and so” that I’ve heard in the past 6 days has given me great pause. I’ve seen a lot of it coming from people who I love and respect, and that has gotten me thinking- why is it hard to accept the validity of others’ pain? I have experienced a fair amount of discrimination in my short life, but I also recognize and know that my life has been one of immense privilege, especially in comparison to SO many others. I won’t pretend do understand what it feels like to be a minority right now. Or to be LGBTQ, or Muslim, or disabled, or a victim of sexual assault, or so much more. I have not personally experienced those struggles, but I love and care for many who have. I know that knowing people who have experienced those things doesn’t make me an expert, but what it does make me, is an ally. Or at least it should. Especially if I remember the commitment that I made as an 8-year-old. Although I have cause to mourn myself, I am in an important position to stand by those whose pain runs deep, because I promised I would.

Warning: I’m about to get a little more religious.

I’ve done my best in my life to model my actions after the person I believe is the greatest example of mourning with those who mourn- Jesus Christ. Here’s an example that I’ve been thinking about a lot this week, and I can’t get this one specific thought out of my head. When Lazarus died, Mary and Martha came to Jesus on the road weeping. They were in despair, because their Lord who they believed and had faith could heal their brother, was too late to do so. On top of sadness, I imagine they also felt anger that Christ had taken so long to arrive. I’m pretty sure one of them even told him that if he’d been there sooner, Lazarus wouldn’t have died. When he finally did arrive though, rather than scold them for their grief, he cried with them. He mourned with them and comforted them. He validated their need to FEEL, and to process their grief, even though he knew that Lazarus would be ok in the end. He was the ultimate example of bearing another’s burdens, regardless of the outcome. He could have easily told them to calm down, to get over it, because hey, He knows something they didn’t- He had the power to raise Lazarus from the dead and to end their sorrow, and he was going to do it. But would saying that to them have really ended their sorrow? I don’t think so. The reality is, Lazarus died. That in and of itself was cause to mourn. The miracle Jesus performed didn’t negate the fact that a tragedy HAPPENED. Yes, Lazarus rose from the dead and continued on in this life, but it didn’t erase the grief and pain and heartache that came from his death. The grieving needed to happen, and Mary and Martha needed to be validated in their grief. They didn’t need Christ to tell them to get over it, they needed him to mourn with them, and mourn with them he did.

Now, I’m not comparing Lazarus’ death to what’s going on today, nor am I saying that some miracle is going to happen and we’re all going to be saved from the disasters and heartache that surround us every day. I don’t have any idea whether things are going to get better, or worse. What I do know, is that I am bringing a daughter into a world that have a lot of anxiety about, and I am terrified of the things that she will have to experience and endure in her lifetime. But I want her to learn from me, that love wins over hate. I want her to learn from me that it’s ok for others to hurt, and we don’t have to tell them to get over it just because we don’t understand it. I want her to learn from me to stand up for the people she cares about, and lend her voice to the voiceless. I want her to understand, if and when she decides to make the same commitment that I did at 8 years old, what it truly means to bear another’s burdens, because she’s watched me do it. I want her to know that it’s okay for her to feel angry, sad, afraid, frustrated, hurt and upset, and I want to help her learn how to work through those emotions so they don’t control her. I also want her to know that it’s okay to feel excited, happy, exuberant, triumphant, proud, joyful and powerful. I want her to be unapologetic about who she is, and accept others for being unapologetic about who they are. I want her to sit with the lonely child at lunch, and speak up to the bully who makes fun of her friend for wearing the wrong clothes, or having a different skin color or culture. I want her to be passionate about things that make her feel alive, and I want her to have integrity to do the right thing. I can’t expect her to do any of these things, if I don’t set the example though. I can’t trust that she will learn these traits from anyone else. 

I have witnessed and experienced so much pain and heartache this year- whether it’s because of the recent election, family tragedies, natural disasters, or a myriad of other tragic and devastating circumstances and events. The pain is real, the anguish is real. I feel it, and I know so many others feel it even more deeply than I. I don’t know how long it will take for me to fully comprehend recent events, and I can’t even begin to put a timeline on how long it should take for you. We may find that we’re ok next week. It might take 4 years. It may take forever. Or some of you may be over it already. And that’s ok. It’s all ok. Because we have a right to mourn, or not. We have a right to express our fear, anger, frustration and sadness in whatever way we need to, or to not express it at all. You see, it’s not my prerogative to decide how you, or anyone else, should process what’s happening in this world. We’re all different, and our experiences are all different. Circumstances are all different. Different isn’t bad. 

All different means, is that I don’t know what you’re going through, and you don’t know what I’m going through, so rather than condemning, judging and dismissing others because we don’t understand them, let’s mourn with those that mourn, and comfort those who stand in need of comfort. Let’s listen without condemning. Let’s really hear people. Let’s validate their pain, and tell them their stories are important. Let’s show them that we care by supporting their causes, their needs and their safety. Let’s get involved in local politics and issues. Let’s write letters to our legislators, and show up to PTA meetings. Let’s speak up when we see something wrong happening, whether it’s happening to someone we know or not. Let’s look out for one another, and let’s put our money where our mouth is (if and when we have the ability to do so). Let’s remember that this world isn’t black or white- it’s hundreds of thousands of shades of the rainbow, and sometimes my magenta looks a lot like your razzle-dazzle-rose. We don’t all see through the same lens, and that’s what makes the world beautiful. We need each other. We need to build each other up rather than tearing each other down. Let’s not use politics as an excuse to discriminate, violate or condemn our brothers and sisters. Instead, let’s use love to guide our actions.

So, for my daughter, who’s name reminds me to believe there is still good in the world, I am choosing to speak up. I don’t want to remain silent, I want to actively be a shoulder to lean on, someone to cry with. I’m not sure yet what that looks like, and I’d love ideas if you have them. Please tell me how I can comfort, and mourn with you. 

Cara Blog signature

P.S. If you’d like a refresher on the commitment I made as an 8-year-old, you can find it in Mosiah 18:8-9. Here’s the excerpt that I’ve been pondering this week:

 8 …And now, as ye are desirous to come into the fold of God, and to be called his people, and are willing to bear one another’s burdens, that they may be light;

 9 Yea, and are willing to mourn with those that mourn; yea, and comfort those that stand in need of comfort, and to stand as witnesses of God at all times and in all things, and in all places that ye may be in, even until death… 

Breast Cancer Awareness Month

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month {Home Sweet Homebodies}

Breast cancer awareness… a matter close to my heart.  Besides having more than one family member who has battled breast cancer, I am a public health nurse at my local health department’s women’s clinic, and one of my main functions is to screen for and educate about breast cancer. October is almost over, but it’s never too late to be reminded to get screened!  And even though I post this (or something like it) pretty much every year, I think it is important and worth re-posting, because I care about each of you- so here you go!

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.

It’s not just about looking for a lump.

Some kinds of breast cancer, like Inflammatory Breast Cancer (IBC), don’t necessarily show up as a lump, but there will be other signs, evident just by looking for outward changes  of the breast- like skin or shape changes. Click the link to read more about signs of IBC. Again, it’s all about knowing your own body- know one knows it the way you do, so if you think your breasts have changed in a way that is suspicious, you need to be your own health advocate and get checked!

Young women- teenagers- need to know too.

Yeah, I know, teenage girls aren’t too keen on talking to their parents about their breast health. But that’s exactly the issue- if their breast was changing because of something like IBC, would they know that they needed medical help? Would they be too embarrassed to say anything until it was too late? Having a conversation with your teenage daughters might just save their life.

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 or do your self exam.
2. Spread the word and encourage someone you love to get screened.
3. Show support during breast cancer awareness month for the hope of finding a cure and for those who have battled breast cancer by wearing pink or the BCA ribbon.

Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Source: http://www.nationalbreastcancer.org/

Breast cancer awareness… a matter close to my heart.  Besides having more than one family member who has battled breast cancer, I am a public health nurse at the local health department, and one of my main functions is to screen for and educate about breast cancer.

These are the lovely ladies I work with.  I truly couldn’t have better coworkers.  I am on the bottom right in this picture.

We just had a health fair honoring breast cancer survivors and we put on a luncheon for a few women who have come through our clinic and who are being treated for cancer.

My boss put together a beautiful lunch for these women.  Yours truly was assigned to make the centerpiece.  I used my anthropologie-inspired cake platter/ cupcake tower, some beautiful rose cupcakes (that Marissa mostly frosted), fresh fruit, and rainbow tissue flowers as accents.  I think it turned out pretty good!

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.
4. Raise money for breast cancer awareness by participating in or supporting fundraisers.

Make the world sweeter this month by doing as many things in the above list as you feel you can!

Reusable sanitary pads= education opportunities

For the month of May, we are inviting you to make the world sweeter with us, once again!

We thought that this month we would focus on making the world a little sweeter by doing something about the needs of the developing world.

In about 2 weeks, I (Marissa) will be going to Uganda to do some humanitarian work with an organization called HELP International. While there, I am planning on teaching people about health, and specifically, teaching women about menstruation and how to make their own reusable sanitary pads.

Living in a developed country, I don’t think that we typically think about the idea of not having feminine hygiene supplies at our disposal. It is something that I know I have always taken for granted in the U.S. It wasn’t until I learned about an organization called Grow. Learn. Give., that it struck me that not all women in the world have access to feminine hygiene supplies. Whether there are no nearby stores that would have the supplies, or because there just isn’t the money to buy them, many women and girls in under-developed countries never have the opportunity to use proper feminine hygiene supplies. Sadly, what is used instead is things like old rags, and in some cases, even bark or mud.

Now, this may seem like a trivial issue. What’s the big deal? Well, it is a much bigger deal than simply being clean. Often times, girls will stay home from school each month during their period, to avoid the embarrassment and discomfort associated with having a period without the proper supplies to care for it. The result can be very heart-breaking – dropping out of school, losing a job, etc.

The following is a video that talks about this problem. (We are not affiliated with this group in any way, but the first part of the video explains the problem very well.)

Ok, Rochelle speaking here: Every child- girls included- should have the opportunity to get an education. Society in general should have a deep interest in seeing girls obtain an education, because when girls and women are left ignorant, we see families as a whole that have poorer health and education. So, how can we address this problem?

One thing you can do to help is sew reusable cloth pads and donate them. There are non-profit organizations that provide education and sanitary supplies to girls so they can attend school and work.

There are so many free patterns for pads available on the internet, with different designs and pros/cons (Check out Jan Andrea’s pattern, and Make Your Own Pads). Our favorite is the type with the base pad with removable top liner. There are many reasons for this. First, when laundering the pads, this type is less bulky so it washes and dries quickly. This is especially important when handwashing and hanging to dry. The second reason is that having a removable liner means that you don’t have to deal with changing bulky pads every time- just the top piece. So, for most women, just one pad and three liners (or less) are necessary each day of their period. Third, unlike envelope-design pads with removable liners that go underneath the top layer, you can change the liner and be totally dry- no soiled layer still on top after changing the liner. Fourth- versatility! This design means you can mix and match based on you needs for the day- heavy or light protection.

So where can you find this type of pattern? You may want to start with this very simple pattern on the Grow. Learn.Give. website, or this one from Empower Women in Africa (scroll down).

Marissa and I sat down a couple days ago and made several pads from fabric we already had- old towels, scrap batting, a couple of t-shirts, and an old diaper changing pad for the waterproof layer. Marissa even sewed one by hand just to make sure it could be done, since she is not sure what kinds of resources will be available to the women she’ll be teaching in Uganda.

Now, I admit that I heard about reusable pads a couple years ago and I couldn’t get past the first “Ewwww”, but after taking the time to learn about all the benefits and possibilities of cloth pads, I have to say that I am definitely going to give them a try. Here is a good article to read about how to actually go about making the switch, if you are interested. I am not going to focus this post on converting anyone to cloth pads, but I find it worth mentioning that reusable cloth pads save a lot of money compared to disposable products that you have to continually purchase. Also, reusable pads don’t contribute to waste in landfills, and are a nice alternative when dealing with allergies, sensitivities, and yeast infections. Even if you love using disposables, these would be a great addition to your 72 hour kit (eek- ever thought what would happen if you ran out of pads during an emergency and there were none available anywhere?)

Ok- back to business. Would you like to get involved?! Make reusable cloth pads and send them to the Days for Girls International Feminine Hygiene Program (there are actually many programs like this, like Empower Women in Africa, but we really like this particular program as a whole, so for the sake of simplicity we are providing contact info for only one program. Feel free to research other programs if you wish.):

Days for Girls HQ
810 H Street Road
Lynden, WA 98264

Days for Girls will distribute the pad kits in Cambodia, India, Haiti, Uganda, and Zimbabwe. They have a goal to meet over 1000 requests for these reusable pads by the end of June. If you can take an hour or two and sew up a few pads (patterns are also provided on their site), you will be directly affecting the life of at least one girl- and the influence of one girl can be far reaching. Ahhh! Let’s make the world sweeter by helping young girls stay in school!

Earth Day is… every day!

I am sorry for my long absence!  All I can say is that life has been crazy, and it will probably stay crazy for a while.  I feel bad that I didn’t get a “Making the World a Little Sweeter” post done in honor of Earth Day last week.  Oh well- better late than never.

One way to make the world sweeter is to watch how we treat it.  Yes, I’m talking reducing your carbon footprint and all that.  I think we all have a responsibility to take care of our beautiful earth.  I would say you don’t have to do anything drastic, but start with the little things.  Pay attention to how much water you use, and try to turn off lights when you leave the room, or better yet, open the curtains and don’t use electric lights during the day if you can help it.  Turn your heat down a notch and put on a sweater during the winter, or turn the a/c down a bit in the summer if you can.

Obviously, you can help make the world a more beautiful place by minimizing the waste deposited on it.  That is the challenge this month.  Either minimize the garbage you generate by recycling, or grab a bag and go pick up trash for a few minutes. 

Despite my shock and disappointment that there is no curbside recycling program where I currently live (I am, after all, an Oregonian at heart), I do try to recycle.  I know of places locally that will accept paper and other items for recycling if you drive it over to them.  But what do I do with all the glass and plastic containers?  I have a hard time throwing those away.  Unfortunately for my husband, this often means that we have bags of little glass and plastic jars and other types of containers building up in corners until I can find uses for them.  (I guess my hording problem is actually the city’s fault. Right?)  This has, however, proven very useful to me so many times.  Remember the time I needed a gazillion TP tubes to make decor for a Scout dinner?  I had most of what I needed on hand already.  And the time I decided to make a bunch of homemade instruments for my toddler to play with?  We pulled out some of those glass bottles and filled them with water to make “flutes”.  My magazines and shoe boxes turned into wall art.  Cheese boxes became a decorative stacking organizer box, a plastic bag became a shower caddy, a ring box a photo frame, and so on.  Most recently, I needed a last minute gift for a neighbor friend, so I whipped up a batch of cookies, pulled out an empty hot cocoa canister, covered it with scrapbook paper and embellished it, put the cookies in the canister, and delivered it as is.

I was really pleased with it, and I have plans to do more!  You could use formula canisters or chow mein noodle canisters and fill them with candy, cookies, treats, nice notes- lots of gift possibilities there.  Use it as your gift wrap.  My point is that even if you don’t have a recycling program in your area, you can save lots of things from the landfill by cleaning, beautifying, and using them for whatever purpose you can come up with!

If you have time and want to go above and beyond, grab your friend/ husband/ kids/ room mates and go pick up trash you see on the side of the road, in a neighborhood park, walking trail, your own yard or wherever you see the need.  I am going to put some plastic bags in our stroller so I can pick up litter I see when we walk to the park.  If you don’t have time to go looking for litter, make a conscious effort to not leave any litter behind and educate those you are with if they are prone to leave their mark on nature.

We can make the world sweeter by giving it a little TLC!

October: Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Ok, I know this doesn’t follow the normal subject material for this blog, but please take a minute and read!

I have posted about breast cancer before, but as October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and the information bears repeating, I am reposting.  A part of my life that I don’t really share here is that I am a public health nurse, and I work in a women’s clinic where I do breast cancer screening and education. Consequently, I have come to feel strongly about early detection/ screening and being aware of your body. I hope you will take a minute to read/ review and maybe make a few changes in your life if necessary.

Breast cancer is a frightening disease. Most women fear that they or someone they love will get it. Our fears may or may not be well- founded, but they are made worse when we hear statistics like:

  • Over 40,000 people will die of breast cancer this year; about 400 of them will be men.
  • 85% of all diagnoses have no family history.

Unfortunately, not all risk factors are things you can prevent, but here are a few things that can help you lower your risk of breast cancer:

  • Exercise and make wholesome food choices.  Make an effort to maintain a healthy weight.
  • Limit alcohol intake and smoking.
  • Be aware of your family history. Talk to your doctor if breast cancer is in your family. This may affect the recommendations your doctor has for you.

In addition, set aside a few minutes each month to do a breast self- exam. Women, if you are at least 20 years old, you should be doing this (as well as getting an exam at the doctor’s office once a year)! 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: http://www.nationalbreastcancer.org/About-Breast-Cancer/What-Is-Breast-Cancer/Breast-Self-Exam.aspx

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 professional.

As women, we so often put all of our energy into taking care of other people that we fail to take care of ourselves.  If you are not making your own health a priority, please consider that you can best care for those you love by keeping yourself healthy and, well, alive.  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.

OK- one more thing. Take a minute to check out this video. It is about a type of rare but highly dangerous form of breast cancer called Inflammatory Breast Cancer (IBC) in which there may not be a “lump”, but rather changes in the outward appearance of the breast.

Interesting Medical Study for Moms-to-be

I read an interesting article that I think pertains to any woman who may ever get pregnant in the future. A one (okay, two) sentence synopsis: We already know that taking 400-800 micrograms of folate before and during the first few weeks of pregnancy is instrumental in preventing neural tube defects in developing embryos. This observational analysis study shows a correlation between supplementing with folic acid for at least 1 year prior to conception and a 50-70% reduction in premature delivery rates.
Bottom Line: If you are planning on trying to get pregnant in the next year or two, start now with folic acid supplementation, and the chances of neural tube defect and preterm delivery will be significantly reduced.

-Bukowski, et al.

Read the full article here or a synopsis here.

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Many of you know that I am a nurse, and that I work in a clinic where I do- among other things- breast cancer screenings and education. Consequently, this is something that I have come to feel strongly about. Since I care about you all, please read this and try to make changes in your life if you are not doing all you can to prevent or detect breast cancer early.

Breast Cancer is a frightening disease. Most women fear that they or someone they love will get it. Our fears may or may not be well- founded, but they are made worse when we hear things like:

Every 2 minutes, there is a new breast cancer diagnosis.

Every 14 minutes, a life is lost to the disease.

Over 40,000 people will die this year; about 400 of them will be men.

85% of all diagnoses have no family history.

1 in 8 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer.

Breast cancer is the leading cause of death in women between ages 40 and 55.

(source: http://www.breastcancerawareness.com/facts.php )

Please read a few things that I have listed that can help you lower some risk factors for breast cancer:

Exercise and make healthy food choices.

Limit alcohol intake.

Know your family history. Talk to your doctor if breast cancer is in your family. This may affect the recommendations your doctor has for you. (Source: http://www.cdc.gov/)


In addition, set aside a few minutes each month to do a breast self- exam. Women, if you are at least 20 years old, you should be doing this (as well as getting an exam at the doctor’s office once a year)! 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 (ever year after age 50). Men, please encourage the women in your lives to do this- it may save their life, because almost 70 % of all breast cancers are found when women do their self- exams. When breast cancers are detected early, women have an excellent chance of survival- the 5- year survival rate is 96%. If you find a lump, call your doctor ASAP, but know that 8 out of 10 lumps are non- cancerous. If you need a reminder on how to do a self- exam, check out this link that has step- by- step instructions: http://www.nationalbreastcancer.org/About-Breast-Cancer/What-Is-Breast-Cancer/Breast-Self-Exam.aspx

A great resource for people who need a little extra reminder is this Early detection plan you can sign up for- for free- and it will send you email or text message reminders.

http://www.nationalbreastcancer.org/edp/

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.

OK- one more thing. Take a minute to check out this video. It is about a type of rare but highly dangerous form of breast cancer called Inflammatory Breast Cancer (IBC) in which there may not be a “lump”, but rather changes in the outward appearance of the breast.