It's that time of year again...magazines, radio, television and even city skylines are all lit up with pink. Pink ribbons seem to be in every line of sight and the reality of just how many lives this disease effects really starts to sink in.
My Mom was diagnosed in September of 2010. Just a couple weeks into the shock of what that meant for her life and her family, October was definitely an ironic and hard pill to swallow. As if the new diagnosis wasn't always on her mind, there was simply no avoiding it during awareness month.
You may ask, "why do we need to dedicate an entire month to just one type of cancer?" I've even wondered this myself. Finding it easier to just be ignorant about the whole thing and pretend that the crazy disease that took my Mom will never touch my life again. Sadly, that is just not going to come true. 1 in 8 U.S. women will develop invasive breast cancer over the course of her lifetime.
1 in 8.
And not just regular ole breast cancer, but invasive breast cancer. Take a moment and think about how that plays out in your current circles. I have a group of 9 extremely close girl friends that have been together since grade school...1 of us will have invasive breast cancer. There are 219 women in my women's committee at work...27 of us will have invasive breast cancer.
Of course these are all estimates and statistics, but nonetheless, they are sobering. While this month can be a difficult and sometimes painful reminder for some, it is really about creating a support system and educating a population.
In the fight against breast cancer, early detection is really our best defense. Despite my Mom's own diligence in this practice, her tumor was the size of a golf ball by the time she discovered a swollen lymph node under her arm. Even the most attentive and conscientious patients can miss signs since they are often ever changing.
While I'm not advocating to plaster every aspect of your life in pink ribbons, take the opportunity this month to involve yourself in just one way. Send a card to someone going through treatment. If you don't know anyone, send one to your local oncology office. Skip your Starbucks and donate a small amount to research (please do your own research first). Register for a 5k that donates proceeds to breast cancer charities. Or just get into the routine of self exams so that maybe we can curb that statistic into a somewhat more stomachable number.
Remember that just because you have no family history of the disease, you are not safeguarded. My Mom had no family history and 85% of breast cancer occurs in women who have no family history of breast cancer.