October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. This is a worldwide annual campaign to help increase awareness and raise funds for research, prevention, treatments and cures for the disease. This month also emphasizes the importance of early screening and offers information and support to those affected by breast cancer. The good news is that most women can survive breast cancer if it’s found and treated early.
According to the National Breast Cancer Institute….
- Breast cancer is the most common kind of cancer in women after skin cancer.
- About 1 in 8 women born today in the United States will get breast cancer at some point.
- Men can also develop breast cancer, making up slightly less than one percent of those diagnosed each year.
- In 2017, it’s estimated that about 30% of newly diagnosed cancers in women will be breast cancers.
- As of January 2018, there are more than 3.1 million women with a history of breast cancer in the U.S.
- About 5% to 10% of breast cancers are thought to be hereditary, caused by abnormal genes passed from parent to child.
- As with many other diseases, your risk of breast cancer goes up as you get older. About two out of three invasive breast cancers are found in women 55 or older.
1 in 8 women, you really do not realize how many people this will and does affect, and how close this will hit home. One of our own…Dana handles all of the social media marketing and newsletter production for my agency. She’s been an asset to the agency for 2 years and we were shocked when she told us the news. This is her story.
You never think you will be the one to hear the words, “You have breast cancer”. Like many females, we look at our calendar and realize it has been a year since our last mammogram. We sigh because we know it must be done, so we make the dreaded call to schedule our ta-tas getting squished like pancakes. For the past few years, I had to get ultrasounds after my mammograms because I am one of the fortunate souls who has cysts. To me, it was always just routine, and I never thought anything of it. But unfortunately, this last time, they found an abnormal lump. Even though my mother passed away from colon cancer and my grandfather from skin cancer, I never thought I would get cancer.
I had the biopsy, and according to the doctor, I was lucky. It was the early stages of breast cancer (ductal carcinoma in situ). All I needed was a lumpectomy, and I would be fine. Easy Peasy Lemon Squeezy. My biggest concern was getting my surgery fast enough so I could go on my vacation. Then, the floor dropped out from under me. The cancer had spread to my lymph nodes, and they found another tumor. Now, the whole game plan had changed. Six months of chemo, double mastectomy, and radiation.
All of these thoughts went racing through my head, as a single mom and self-employed, how was I going to do this? How was I going to take care of my 15-year-old daughter Alex?, How was I going to pay my bills, and how was I going to take care of myself? After my little pity party, I told myself, I can do this. Life does not always go according to plan. This is just another hiccup, and I will get through this like other obstacles I have faced. I always live life to the fullest and having cancer will not keep me down. I believe that having a positive attitude and holding your head up high helps. Yes, I have my bad days, but I always pull myself together.
The greatest gift in all this craziness is the huge amount of support and help from amazing friends, family, neighbors, etc. The Cancer Support Center in Mokena has also been my saving grace. The love and incredible support I received from everyone around me inspires me to stay strong and confront this cancer threat head on. “No One Fights Alone.”
I just celebrated my last day of Chemo, but I still have a long road ahead of me with surgery, radiation and then reconstruction. Even though I am not finished with my journey, I am hopeful and I am ready to continue this fight. It is so important to remember to get your mammograms and do self-checks.
Most important, stay positive and keep faith.