Friday, October 23, 2015

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month...

October is a festive month full of activities--- first you've got Canadian Thanksgiving and then there's Halloween and all the fall fun in between from watching the beautiful changing fall foliage to visiting farmer's markets, and apple and pumpkin picking. However, it is also an important month to bring awareness to one of the leading causes of death amongst women-- Breast Cancer. Did you know one in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime? And that breast cancer also affects 1% of men? With increased awareness and early detection, there are greater treatment options available. 

This cause touches me deeply because breast cancer affected my family. A decade ago, my dear aunt lost her fight to breast cancer. She was diagnosed very late in the stage, and with intensive chemo, she went into remission but it came back and she passed away at home hooked up to a breathing machine. Until this day, we believe she could've still been with us. The thing was she noticed unusual symptoms early on but didn't get them checked. She kept going to work instead of visiting her doctor until she felt too sick to work, and the eventual diagnosis confirmed the news she had suspected all along. Knowing the devastation, I'm not going to take a chance on my health and I'm proud to say I am a regular checker! Bringing awareness is key to detecting early warning signs and the amazing prospect is that it saves precious lives!

"When breast cancer is detected early, and is in the localized stage, the five-year relative survival rate is 100%." American Cancer Society

Campaign supporters like BHG360° Bankers Healthcare Group provides a hub for conversation, tips and also financing solutions to healthcare professionals. Click here to read more about who they are and what they offer. 

So What Could We Do?

Educate. Every person should know the symptoms and signs of breast cancer period! If an abnormality is discovered, it should be checked out by a healthcare professional. When breast cancer symptoms and signs are initially noticed, typically only one or two, their presence do not mean that you have breast cancer. The only way to find out is having it investigated by your doctor. 

Perform a Monthly Breast Exam. Adult women of all ages should perform monthly breast self-exams, to be able to more easily identify any changes in your breasts. If you notice anything unusual, your healthcare professional should be informed. I know every month, this gives me peace of mind that I'm being pro-active with my health as a woman!

“Forty percent of diagnosed breast cancers are detected by women who feel a lump, so establishing a regular breast self-exam is very important.” John Hopkins Medical Centre

While mammograms can help you to detect cancer before you can feel a lump, breast self-exams help you to be familiar with how your breasts look and feel so you can alert your healthcare professional if there are any changes.

See here for instructions on how a proper breast self-exam should be performed.

Early Detection Plan. The best way to fight breast cancer is to have a game plan that helps you detect the disease as early as possible. You can create an early detection plan with the NBCF. It is super quick to sign up and breaks down what you should be doing monthly with reminders to do breast self-exams, and when to schedule your clinical exams. You can also search for clinics in your area. I can not emphasize enough:

"When breast cancer is detected early, and is in the localized stage, the 5-year relative survival rate is 100%." American Cancer Society
Reduce the Risk. Although you cannot prevent cancer, you can follow healthy lifestyle habits that can help reduce your risks such as:

The more armed we all are with the knowledge of breast cancer symptoms and signs, and how to reduce our risks gives us a greater chance to fight this awful disease! Let's empower each other by spreading the word and increase the awareness by sharing it with our family, friends and colleagues. Power in numbers-- banding together to raise awareness is far greater than what we can achieve alone!

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