October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. You’ve seen the pink ribbons, pink hair, pink clothing, pink everything, worn by seemingly everyone from your favorite professional athletes to friends and family. Perhaps you were lucky enough to catch the annual Gentleman’s Dash, where scores of men competed in some rather large sizes of pink high heels, that took place in Pittston this past weekend. Maybe, if you’re like us, your social media stream is being brightened by a sea of pink this month as well. Point is, wherever you go, whatever you do, a strong show of support is everywhere you look!
So, since everyone not living under a rock has now associated pink with breast cancer, does it really need this much awareness still? YES! Awareness is critical! Why do you ask? Breast cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death among women after lung cancer. But more importantly, it’s deeply personal for most of us. We all know someone who has battled or is currently battling this horrible disease – a mother, sister, friend, neighbor or co-worker. About 1 in 8 women in this country will develop invasive breast cancer over the course of her lifetime. In fact, in 2018, an estimated 266,120 new cases of invasive breast cancer are expected to be diagnosed in women in the US according to breastcancer.org. What exactly is invasive breast cancer? 80% of all breast cancers are invasive or infiltrating, which means they have broken through the walls of the glands or ducts where they originated and grown into surrounding breast tissue. And for the fellas out there, it can happen to you too, albeit quite rare. Breast cancer affects about 2,800 men in the US annually or just under 1% of all cases. So, awareness could save not only the lives of the females in your life but perhaps even your own.
Breast Cancer Awareness Month not only helps to promote awareness about the disease but also raise much-needed funds for charities and scientific organizations to help research causes, develop preventive measures, create better and more accurate diagnosis, which, hopefully, will ultimately lead to a cure. It also provides support for those battling as well.
Want to get involved? Here’s how you can help! Promote early detection through symptom identification and regular screenings, share the risks and how to reduce those risks, support an organization that researches cures and assists those battling the disease (more on that in a bit). Remember, with advances in breast cancer treatment, many women can expect to beat this! So, stay positive and help spread the word! Together we can end breast (and ultimately, all forms of) cancer for good! #rethinkpink
Early Detection of Breast Cancer
Although symptoms of breast cancer can vary from person to person, there are some generally-common signs and symptoms you should be on the lookout for:
- A lump or mass in the breast tissue or underarm area
- Breast skin changes, such as swelling, redness, dimpling or peeling skin
- Changes in the size or shape of the breasts
- Changes in the appearance of one or both nipples
- Nipple discharge other than breast milk
- General pain in the breast or any part of the breast
- Irritated or itchy breasts
- Change in breast color
- Changes in touch (may feel hard, tender or warm)
If you do have a symptom that is out of the ordinary for you, consult your physician for a screening. Don’t pull a WebMD; however, because any of these symptoms don’t necessarily mean you have breast cancer. They can be signs of other problems, many minor in nature. When in doubt, call your physician and let the professionals do their jobs.
Screening and Early Detection
It all starts with committing yourself to not only self-examination of your breasts, but also regular medical breast cancer screening tests. This includes an annual clinical breast exam and a mammogram. After all, the purpose of screening tests is to find breast cancer early, before any symptoms can develop and while the cancer is 9 times of 10, easier to treat. Not quite sure of the proper way to do a breast self-exam? See these five steps published by breastcancer.org, for help. They’re easy to follow and will help you through your monthly self-exam. If you are at higher than average risk of breast cancer, you may need to be screened even earlier and more often than those at average risk. Visit the Susan G. Komen website to learn the breast cancer screening recommendations. Be sure to prioritize your monthly self-exams and your annual screenings. Something this important CANNOT wait until next month, next season or next year. Your health (and life) may just depend on it!
Reduce the Risks of Breast Cancer
You’ve learned about the signs of breast cancer, and the importance of early detection and screening. Now, we’d like to talk about the risks. While not all risk factors for breast cancer are in your control, there are certainly some that are. Besides knowing the signs and performing your self-exams and getting your screenings, here are five things you can do to reduce your risk of breast cancer:
- Stay physically active – The American Cancer Society (ACS) recommends that adults get at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity or 75 minutes of vigorously-intensive activity each week. Exercise can not only lower your risk but also help you in the fight if you do sadly develop breast cancer.
- Maintain a healthy weight – Women who are overweight tend to have higher blood insulin levels, which have been linked to some cancers, including breast cancer. Maintaining a healthy weight and getting the right nutrition can help lower your risk of breast cancer significantly.
- Limit your alcohol consumption – The risk increases with the amount of alcohol consumed. The ACS recommends that women who drink have no more than one drink per day. The advice we could probably all use.
- Know your family history of cancer and sharing it with your physician – Your family history may show you to be at higher risk and your doctor will be able to watch you more closely and tailor your screening schedule to your risk profile.
- Quit smoking – We hope that you’re not a smoker, but if you are, now’s the time to quit! Smoking is linked to not only many different types of cancer but other major diseases as well.
At Choice One Community Credit Union, we support breast cancer awareness in our community and this year, all proceeds from our October events will go to Candy’s Place. If you’d like to help support this amazing cause, we have several cool ways you can!
- Stop by our Wilkes-Barre Office every Friday in October for a bake sale full of delicious cookies, cakes and other tasty treats from some of the best bakers Choice One has to offer!
- Our Plains Office has several donate-to-win prizes, including a basket of candles and scented waxes, a Jack O’Lantern full of candy and even a Rolling Rock cooler, a six-pack and various chips and snacks to name a few!
- All offices have bracelets, magnets and associated breast cancer awareness items available for a small donation as well.
We hope this blog encourages you to get involved and help spread the word and support this worthwhile cause. Together, we can possibly help to save the life of someone you love, and maybe, one day, make the disease a thing of the past!