Breast cancer—just saying it sends chills down my spine. I stood by my mom through surgery, chemo and radiation. I supported girl friends through treatment, recurrences and more treatment.
Three million women are living with breast cancer, and one third of them don’t know it. There is a new diagnosis of breast cancer every 3 minutes and every 13 minutes, a life is lost to breast cancer. Even with brilliant doctors and scientists working round the clock, we still don’t know enough about what causes breast cancer or how to prevent it. And there is still no cure.
I am grateful that my mom is a 5+ year breast cancer survivor and I pray every day for others I know who are still fighting to survive.
What women need to know:
Early detection helps save lives, so see your doctor for regular clinical breast exams. The American Cancer Society still recommends yearly mammograms starting at age 40, but talk to your doctor to see if any other studies such as an MRI or ultrasound are needed based on your risk factors and family history.
Practice self breast awareness. This means, know your body and your breasts. Be aware if there are any changes such as irregularity, asymmetry, lumps, rashes, discharge or pain and report them to your physician.
Talk to your doctor about your personal risk for breast cancer, and encourage women around you to do the same.
While there is no way to completely prevent breast cancer, studies suggest that some lifestyle choices may help reduce breast cancer risk. These include:
- Eat a healthy diet that is low in fat and high in whole grains and fruits and vegetables, nuts and beans
- Exercise regularly
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Take a multivitamin
- Have your children before 35, if you can
- Breastfeed your children
- Avoid unnecessary X-rays
- Limit alcohol and do not smoke
This past weekend, I joined thousands of women, each walking up to a marathon and a half in the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer. My team made a marathon and a half (39.3 miles) to raise money and awareness to fight breast cancer, hoping that each step we took brings us one step closer to finding a cure.
The money raised will help provide access to care for those that most need it, fund educational programs, and accelerate research into new treatments and potential cures. Since its launch in 2003, the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer series has raised more than $425 million through the dedication of more than 165,000 participating women and men from across the country.
For further information on the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer, please visit www.avonwalk.org.