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  • Kirsten Smith

Everything You Need to Know About Breast Cancer Awareness Month




October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. From October 1st to October 31st, people around the world will bring awareness to this issue and support those who are affected by breast cancer. This vital month is a time to educate ourselves and others about the impact of this disease. Many women are affected by breast cancer, and statistically speaking, it’s likely that you or someone you know will develop this type of cancer.


While there isn’t a cure for breast cancer, early detection and prevention are vital. Women can learn to recognize the signs of breast cancer and stay healthy. For those who already have breast cancer or are dealing with the diagnosis of a loved one, there are plenty of great resources available.


I’ll talk more about these resources and how you can support people with breast cancer or find support for yourself throughout the rest of this post. There is a lot you should know about Breast Cancer Awareness Month. I’ll dig more into it here.


What is Breast Cancer?


You might be wondering what breast cancer is exactly. To explain things quickly to you, breast cancer is a specific type of cancer that starts in the breast tissue. Cells divide and grow uncontrollably in the breasts leading to tumors. Benign tumors or lumps are not immediately dangerous to your health, but this type of growth increases your risk for malignant breast cancer.


This is why it’s so important to get regular checkups with your doctor so they can look for lumps and other irregularities!


Quick Facts About Breast Cancer:


I had a lot to learn about this subject. So, I’ll educate you on Breast Cancer with some quick facts. The data I found is pulled from research institutes and reputable organizations like the Mayo Clinic, the CDC, and the National Breast Cancer Foundation.

  • Around 1 in 8 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in the United States.

  • The biggest risk factors for breast cancer are age and being female.

  • Experts estimate that around 43,600 women will die from breast cancer this year.

  • Every 2 minutes a woman is diagnosed with breast cancer in America.

  • There are over 3.8 million breast cancer survivors in the United States.

  • Black women are more likely to die from breast cancer than white women.

  • Around 500 men die from breast cancer in the United States each year.


What Are The Signs of Breast Cancer?


Breast cancer is one of the most common types of cancer found in women. Because this cancer is so prevalent, I highly recommend looking for signs of breast cancer with regular self-checkups. This can be done from the comfort of your home.


Symptoms you can look for include:

  • Significant or slight changes in the size of your breasts. Changes to the shape of your breast can also be a sign of breast cancer.

  • Noticeable pain in the breast area. This could be a sharp pain or a throbbing sensation.

  • New hardness, swelling, or tenderness of the breast tissue.

  • Lumps found in any area of the breasts.

  • Discharge of fluid from the breast that is not milk.


These are just a few of the early signs of breast cancer, but you should contact your doctor if you have any of these symptoms. It’s better to catch breast cancer early than wait for it to get out of control. In fact, most breast cancer survivors are treated successfully because of early cancer detection!


I had a breast cancer scare in 2011. I have fibrocystic breast and had to have a mammogram at the age of 24. Thankfully, my mammogram turned out ok but I want to stress the importance of advocating for yourself if you feel like something isn’t right with your body. While the mammogram was a bit uncomfortable, I’m glad that I had it done.


Risk Factors For Breast Cancer And How to Reduce Your Risk?


I’ve been talking about the signs of breast cancer, but what are the risk factors for breast cancer, and how can you reduce your risk for breast cancer with certain lifestyle choices? I’ll get into this topic more here.


These days, it seems like so many things can cause cancer, but you want to be aware so you can take preventative measures. Factors include:

  • Age

  • Gender

  • Genetic Inheritance

  • A Family History

  • Being Overweight or Obese

  • Lack of Pregnancy

  • Exposure to Radiation

  • Early Menstruation or Delayed Menopause

  • Hormone Therapy Treatment

  • An Unhealthy Lifestyle

More research needs to be done to understand the causes of breast cancer. For most women, taking preventative measures can help a lot. I suggest following some of these steps here to reduce your risk for breast cancer:

  • Try scheduling a yearly wellness check. Your doctor can perform a breast exam on you and detect any lumps or abnormalities. You can also schedule breast cancer screenings for prevention.

  • Don’t be afraid to check your breasts too. Self-breast exams are a great way to reduce your cancer risk!

  • I know drinking alcohol and eating unhealthy food can be fun and pleasurable, but it’s better to eat well and drink less for your breast health!

  • Keep a healthy weight to stay cancer-free. A healthy lifestyle doesn’t prevent cancer 100%, but this is one of the best preventative measures against cancer and other life-threatening diseases!

  • Finally, limit the amount of hormone therapy drugs you take after menopause. This treatment is helpful but it does up your risk for cancer.


How Can You Support Those Affected by Breast Cancer?


There are so many different ways you can help those affected by breast cancer. Whether the people in your life have breast cancer or you are close to someone with breast cancer, you can do your part this month and beyond! Here are some simple ways you can help:


1. Offer Emotional Support


Everyone needs emotional support, especially when they get bad news. If a family member or friend is diagnosed with this type of cancer, don’t ignore them. Listen to their concerns and be there for them when they need someone to vent to.


Don’t be afraid to help during this difficult time. I suggest you listen to those affected by breast cancer with an open heart and mind. This might not seem like you are doing a lot, but I remember when I had my scare. The support of my family and friends meant everything to me.


2. Help Lessen Their Burdens


Individuals diagnosed with breast cancer will have a harder time maintaining their home and day-to-day activities. You can help them by offering practical support. Offer to clean their home, get groceries, pick up their kids, babysit, and do other important tasks they can’t complete on their own.


3. Suggest Professional Help


Taking that first step towards self-help can be hard. Those affected by breast cancer might need to seek counseling from a licensed therapist. You might also need to see a therapist as it can be emotionally draining to offer your support to your loved ones.


4. Donate to Breast Cancer Causes


Finally, you can support breast cancer research and treatment by donating to organizations that are fighting against breast cancer. I’ll list some top programs at the end of this post. Donating to research is one of the best ways to fight against cancer since there still isn’t a cure.


What Treatment Options Are Available For Breast Cancer?


Current treatment options are effective but still need to be improved. These are some of the most popular ways doctors treat breast cancer:

  • Breast Cancer Surgery

  • Chemotherapy

  • Radiation Therapy

  • Hormone Blocking Therapy

  • Immunotherapy

  • Targeted Drug Therapy


Resources and Programs Dedicated to Fighting Breast Cancer


You can educate yourself about breast cancer by doing a little research online. I’ve gathered a list of organizations that help with breast cancer research, and breast cancer awareness. They also help those diagnosed with breast cancer.


Susan G. Komen: Founded in 1980, Susan G. Komen is one of the biggest breast cancer organizations in the country. They offer financial support for medical care, donate to breast cancer research, educate people, and do much more for the breast cancer community.


National Breast Cancer Foundation: NBCF is another high-profile organization that funds cancer research, provides education and spreads awareness in support of breast cancer patients and survivors.


Breastcancer.org: This organization offers emotional support to those with breast cancer, educates communities, and has some of the best online resources for people that want to know more about breast cancer.


Breast Cancer Research Foundation: BCRF was founded in 1993 and has dedicated its vast resources to combating breast cancer. They are searching for a cure and help fund all kinds of breast cancer research.


Final Thoughts on Breast Cancer Awareness Month:


With so many women affected by breast cancer, I think it’s important for us to learn more about this topic. During the month of October, I recommend taking the time to think about your breast health.


Consider getting a breast exam. Again, from my own experience, I know that prevention is the best way to reduce your risk for breast cancer and keep your body healthy.


If you aren’t affected by breast cancer personally or aren’t at risk for breast cancer, try donating money to charities and research efforts. Cancer is one of the leading causes of death around the world, and every dollar you donate could bring us that much closer to finding a cure!


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