With the world now observing October as National Breast Cancer Awareness month you may start to glaze over when you see all the pink popping up this month, but we are asking you not to. With 1 in 8 women facing a diagnosis of breast cancer each year and 1% of men doing the same, we can’t turn a blind eye to the pink popping up around us. Most of us can think of eight important people in our lives that we would be devastated to see become ill, let alone ourselves. When you see the pink this month, pause and think about what it stands for- it stands for awareness of finding a cure for all those people in our lives that mean something to us, from our neighbors and colleagues to our children and partners.
Breast Cancer gets a lot of screen time and visibility, but according to www.breastcancer.org aside from skin cancer, breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer among American women and stealing their lives more than any other cancer, other than lung cancer. It’s estimated that this year about 30% of all newly diagnosed cancers in women will be breast cancer. But there is a silver lining here, -this means our friends and family are being diagnosed, which means they are getting their mammograms and seeing their physicians and getting diagnosed which means that many more people are being treated.
Breast Cancer isn’t always a death sentence and for many people it can be a very rough year or so of treatment that then turns into remission and eventually a cancer-free life. But breast cancer is a hard diagnosis. It can mean major surgeries, chemotherapy, radiation, reconstructive surgeries, physical therapy, emotional therapy and a whole slew of medications. While someone in treatment may say they are doing ok, chances are they are doing their best but still carrying a large burden to save their lives. You can pause; think of the pink and help. Help your friends, family and coworkers by lightening the load as they battle for their health.
Supporting anyone in treatment can be done in so many ways. Always first think of the person, their needs and where they may be at emotionally. You do not want to add an extra load or stress to their lives. Are they someone who enjoys company? Visit! Call! Write! Could they use someone to drop a bag of groceries off, a home cooked meal or even a gift certificate for food? Most likely, especially if they have kids at home to feed too! A person in treatment may also love a ride or companion to join them in their treatment that can often be long and boring or they may not want you to see them being vulnerable. Ask them what they might like and if they aren’t sure don’t pry. Sometimes the best thing can be an uplifting text, card in the mail or post it on their desk to remind them, “you are loved and you got this!” Partners, kids and family and friends may also be struggling with a cancer diagnosis. All of a sudden someone you love is sick, now what? Check in on each other. The person might not always have something to share but it goes a long way knowing that someone asks and cares.
When it comes to breast cancer one of the most proactive things we can all do is keep up to date with our own preventative health visits. Ignorance is not bliss when it comes to our health and we are always better staying on top of it than living in denial. Get your mammograms! If you see or feel something you aren’t sure about, say something. Our local health care providers are here to take care of you! Call and ask to talk to your nurse, send a message through the patient portal. If you aren’t feeling well, make the appointment to go in. It’s always easier to treat the small things than to have to tackle the large, but even if it is, it’s still worth the fight. No matter what you hear and how overwhelming it is, you are not alone.
October is a time to pause and think of those who may be fighting, those who have survived and to remember all those we’ve lost to breast cancer and really any cancer. We need to take those thoughts and put them into action by advocating for our own health and keeping up to date with our own prevention. We need to empower others to do the same. We need to support each other when we need it and support efforts to help those in treatment and of course for a cure. So far we aren’t able to picture a future that isn’t filled with pink ribbons because breast cancer is still too real and too close to so many in our community and beyond. We stop at a red light; we stop at a stop sign, let’s do the same when we see the pink this October. Let’s take time to gear up in this fight against breast cancer and all cancer, and pause for pink!
Director Of The Wellness Center