October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, an annual campaign to raise awareness about the impact of breast cancer, and the focus is on screening. The motto is, “Together we RISE.” They want everyone to RISE to ensure every woman has access to the screenings she needs and the support she deserves. Each week of the month has been given an area of focus concerning breast cancer (click here to see the complete calendar):
- Week one – Education
- Week two – Empowerment
- Week three – Action
- Week four – Community
- Week five – Hope
I’ve always looked for ways to be active in an issue I believe in, so I have chosen to focus on week three, action.
Breast cancer is primarily a woman’s disease (although, as you will see in the statistics, men get breast cancer also) so my blog is for women and ways they can take action and for men to encourage women they know to take action.
I’ve found that one way to get me to take action on an issue is to convince me there is an urgency. Here’s some statistics that hopefully will convince you that there absolutely is an urgency.
- 1 in 8 women in America will develop breast cancer in their lifetime.
- In 2022, an estimated 287,500 new cases of breast cancer will be diagnosed
- 2,710 men will be diagnosed with breast cancer this year
- 43,550 women will die of breast cancer this year
- 65% of breast cancer cases are diagnosed at a localized stage, and those cases have a five-year survival rate of 99%
- There are over 3.8 million breast cancer survivors
The statistics that caught my attention is the number of women who will die this year of breast cancer and the 99% survival rate for those who catch the cancer early. That shows there is something we can do to save lives, that something is screening.
It’s important for all women ages 40 and over to get a mammogram every year. Women over the age of 20 should prioritize an annual well-woman exam and talk to their doctor about breast cancer risk factors to determine when to begin annual mammograms. At your well-woman exams, you should discuss any items that might require more frequent mammograms, like breast changes or family history.
One of the first steps to breast health is early detection, there are three steps to early detection,
- Breast self-awareness
- Well-woman exam
You can click here to get more detail on these three steps. The key here is action, it takes you deciding to take action and then following through, whether it’s for yourself or encouraging friends and family to take action.
One way to jump start action is to make a promise to someone you care about and cares about you that you will prioritize your breast health this year. I’ve found that my promise means something and helps me follow through on my promise. If you are encouraging someone to focus on their breast health this year then see if they will make that promise to you and allow you to check up on their progress periodically.
Here are four things that you can do as you take the steps to improve your breast health this year.
Things to share at your next mammogram.
Getting a mammogram almost always comes with some concerns. These are the top four concerns people have—and information on how to prepare and advocate for the best experience—before their mammogram appointment.
- You are concerned about a certain area or breast change
- You are at high risk of developing breast cancer
- You feel anxious about getting your mammogram
- You experience unreasonable pain during your mammogram
The wife of one of my Air Force crew members had a history of breast cancer in her family and she found out that she had a gene mutation that made her extremely prone to breast cancer. She had preventative surgery that greatly lessoned her likelihood of getting breast cancer. Finding out if you are at high risk for developing breast cancer is just one of the benefits of early screenings. Click here to find out more details about these four concerns and mammogram preparations.
How to Schedule a Mammogram
While it may seem a simple thing, scheduling a mammogram can be complicated. Questions like:
- What kind of mammogram should I schedule?
- Where can I go to get screened?
- How will I cover the cost?
- How will I get around potential roadblocks?
These are valid questions, and you can click here to get guidance on scheduling a mammogram.
How to Find Financial Assistance
There are resources available if you will have trouble paying for a mammogram. Click here to find out more about financial assistance.
There are things that you can do to prepare for your mammogram. There is information that will help you understand how the mammogram is accomplished, information that you can supply that helps the healthcare professionals understand your particular situation and family background. The pamphlet titled, “Mammogram 101” can give you the guidance on how to prepare for your mammogram. Click here to get the pamphlet.
This month is a good time to focus on breast health and taking the steps to detect breast cancer early. The 99% five-year survival rate for early detection should be all the motivation we need to take action.