The most IMPORTANT aspect of October and what it also represents is Breast Cancer Awareness. Breast cancer has been known to take the lives of many women and it’s numbers are steadily rising. Breast cancer affects 1 in 8 women everyday in America. So I just wanted to shed light on the good information. The facts, the fundraisers that matter, the prevention, and the awareness!
Breast cancer can be a tricky situation that can either go from devastating to miraculous. There are even breast cancer symptoms that have nothing to do with the detection of a lump, so it will not always be easy to notice. We as women should always be up to date on our health, changes, and unidentified lumps or lesions. Finding a lump in our breasts is the most common red flag that can lead to being diagnosed with breast cancer. But there are other symptoms such as changes in the nipple and even changes in the skin. Skin can begin to appear lumpy, scaly, red, or rigged. Be on the look out for ANY type of sudden changes in your breasts; such as changes in size and shape, or even a nipple that starts to turn inward. There can even be nipple discharge other than breast milk, swelling, and tenderness. Also keep a check on swollen lymph nodes under the arm and get them examined, especially if they become painful. Not all of these are necessarily a signal of breast cancer, some of them are caused by the course of your menstrual cycle, but we should still recognize changes or anything unusual and get them examined as soon as possible.
There are five stages of breast cancer. When women become diagnosed, they are also assigned a stage that determines the type of treatment needed and whether it has reached the lymph nodes or other parts of the body. It also reflects the size of the tumor and is based on biopsy reports. Knowing these stages assists the medical team with knowing the best possible treatment and their patient’s chances of survival.
Stage 4 is called metastic breast cancer. This is what they call the most “incurable” stage, but doctors have been finding ways for patients to live longer and fight harder. In this stage, the cancer has spread to many parts of the body (usually to the liver, bones, brain, or lungs) and chemotherapy is typically recommended.
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Stage 3 cancer is called an advanced cancer that has spread to just the lymph nodes but not any other parts of the body. It is based on tumor size and divided into three categories. Stage 3 treatments vary widely based on the size of the tumor. There are surgeries that may require removing the entire breast, which is a mastectomy. Some patients may require chemotherapy first in order to shrink the size of the tumor, but there will usually be a type of surgery performed during this stage in order to remove some of the lymph nodes and be able to treat them with radiation.
Stage 2 is considered to be in the early stages but is still growing. It consists of two stages (2A and 2B). 2A usually consists of no tumor or only 4 lymph nodes that are infected with cancer. 2B consists of a small tumor from 2 to 5 centimeters and requires either a mastectomy or lumpectomy. Although stage 2 cancer’s tumors are larger than stag 1, they are still quite treatable and lymph nodes are usually biopsied and removed.
Stage 1 is known as being invasive, which means it has spread to the healthy breast tissue. This treatment would leave the breast conserved and would only need a lumpectomy after receiving radiation. Chemotherapy is done at this stage for 1 centimeter tumors.
Stage 0 is also known as pre-cancer and is the earliest stage of breast cancer. During this stage, the cancer is not invasive and has not spread, but it still can become invasive in the future. Chemotherapy is not required during this stage and can be treated with radiation alone. Some may not even need treatment at all.
Knowing the stages of breast cancer is as important as knowing the symptoms and treatments. It gives breast cancer a scale that provides the best treatments according to their individual situations and needs. The other part about breast cancer is that it does not just affect women, but MEN should also get checked regularly. It’s true that women are one hundred times more likely to be diagnosed with breast cancer, but 2,400 new cases of male breast cancer have been diagnosed this year. Cancer in males is a very rare situation, only one in 1,000 males develop breast cancer in their lifetime. Only 460 men will die from breast cancer this year. The most common cancers among men are prostate, lung, and colorectal. Breast cancer is most common in women.
A lump or mass is an obvious sign in men, but because it is so rare, they never have mammograms.
Like women, breast cancer is also more hereditary upon men. One in five men whom have been diagnosed had breast cancer in their families.
Everyone knows that October is the month to support breast cancer victims and make it more aware to others, but lets not be what they call “pink washed” when it comes to all of the fundraisers that will be requesting contributions. The most known symbolism and supportive image for breast cancer is the infamous pink ribbon, but not everything with the pink ribbon is raising money and support for a cure, their products may simply raise awareness while giving no proceeds to cancer charities. There are even companies that will have the pink ribbon in support of breast cancer ONLY to raise awareness while still creating or selling products that add to the risk of developing breast cancer. YIKES! So in other words, seeing that little pink ribbon does not always mean that you are contributing to breast cancer and a cure. It would be better to give to breast cancer charities and hospitals DIRECTLY! It is definitely more effective and there will be no confusion on what your contributions are helping with. So if you would like to help support the actual cause and prevention research then these are five legit fundraisers and corporations to look in to:
1. Dr. Susan Love Research Foundation (Prevention Research)
2. California Breast Cancer Research (Prevention Research)
3. Young Survivor Coalition (This supports adolescent patients)
4. National Breast Cancer Coalition Fund (Supports Education)
5. The Pink Fund Inc. (Helps patients avoid hospital debt)
Breast cancer is a common but touchy subject around this time of the month, but it’s a great cause to support. It’s natural to want to lend a hand, whether you know a patient or a survivor, or even someone that has passed from breast cancer. If you would like to help someone going through it be giving gifts, make sure to give practical and helpful gifts. You can assist someone with food delivery to their home, grab them a lot of household items such as paper products or a spa gift. Other great gifts would be something they can do while relaxing at home or in the hospital, such as an Amazon Prime membership or a Netflix subscription. Everything should relate to comfort for them and what they are going through with treatments, like satin pajamas for the comfort of pain in their breasts, warm and cozy blankets, or fuzzy house slippers.
Everyone needs help, just don’t overdo it and make sure that you aren’t trying to overextend your assistance to them. However you decide to help with breast cancer can either be effective or just a small gesture, either way it’s always a GREAT cause. Be sure to research, support, and listen! Have a wonderful month!
Solidify Your Life!!