Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Early Detection Can Save Your Life

Shortly after breast cancer awareness month ended, new US guidelines for mammograms were announced. People across the country joined forces throughout the month of October to remind women of the importance of breast health. We walked walks and talked about breast self exams and encouraged women to get mammograms in an effort to increase early detection and save lives. And then THEY tell us, we shouldn't really worry until we're 50. 


Last month, I found three lumps in my right breast. Because I make a regular habit of pretending like everything is just great, I considered ignoring them for a moment. But then I remembered my friend and my cousin who are breast cancer survivors. Both of them found lumps before they turned 50. My friend was in her early 40s and my cousin was in her early 30s. I remembered my aunt who is a breast cancer survivor as well.

I remembered when they shaved their heads as they endured chemotherapy. I remembered when they were too weak to walk the walks themselves. I remembered when they were scared and when I was scared for them. I remembered their courage and their defiance toward the disease. And I remembered the early detection which is what ultimately saved their lives.

Here are a few quick facts from the American Breast Cancer Foundation:
  • More than eighty percent of women who develop breast cancer have no family history of the disease...one out of eight American women will get breast cancer.  
  • When breast cancer is found in its earliest stages, your chances of surviving are at least 90 percent or better.  
  • While it is true that the majority, up to 78%, of the disease is found in women in [their 50s], there is still a significant number of cases found in women under the age of thirty. In fact, most cancer found in younger women is more advanced. 
  • Most breast cancers have been present for 8 - 10 years before a lump is found. 
I am happy to report that I have fibroid cysts, not cancer. I am very fortunate. Eliminating the option for mammograms before 50 and essentially making light of the importance of early detection is criminal as far as I am concerned.

Keep doing those self exams ladies. And keep pushing your doctors, your insurance companies and your legislators to encourage early detection and mammograms for all women.

1 comment:

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