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Wet Noodle Posse | Blog

Thursday, October 29, 2009

A Few Last Words About Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Breast cancer.

There’s not a woman alive who isn’t terrified of those words.

The good news is that breast cancer can be caught early and treated successfully just by paying attention. Yet, many women don’t monitor the condition of their breasts, don’t have annual mammograms and don’t bring problems to the attention of their doctors.

Some of the hesitation comes from the age-old taboo against a woman touching her own body. Ironically, the first step in beating this disease is to, quite literally, take matters into your own hands. Doing a breast self-exam regularly is a good way to get to know how your breasts normally look and feel. This way, you can more easily notice changes. The best time to do a breast self-exam is when your breasts are not tender or swollen, such as a few days after your period.

Two weeks ago I had my third surgery in ten years to remove a lump from my right breast. For the third time in 10 years I received the news every woman wants to hear...“You do not have breast cancer.” Each of these three times I discovered the problem myself during a regular breast self-exam.

I’m not a breast care fanatic but there is a history of cancer in my family (though, thankfully, not breast cancer), and it makes me aware of the importance of taking care of myself. I’d rather experience these little speed bumps in life and get them taken care of now than ignore signs of trouble and spend my remaining years asking “what if.”

As important as they are, self exams should not take the place of regular screening mammograms or clinical breast exams which are done by a doctor. If cost is a factor, call your local health department or library to ask for information about groups in your area which assist women with medical needs.

Most of all, don’t be afraid. Yes, you may find a lump or other abnormality, but the sooner it’s discovered, the better. Turn anxiety into action.

Take this message to heart and help spread the word. Leave a message for our readers if you like, share your story, pass along some wisdom or encouragment.

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At 11:42 AM, Blogger Mo H said...

Great reminder to all of us. I'd like to add that you don't have to have breast cancer in your family to get it. A good friend of mine got it with no family history. She did the mastectomy and reconstruction. She was a healthy woman (not overweight, had no previous biopsies, etc.).

At 12:29 PM, Blogger Theresa Ragan said...

Yes, Karen, great reminder. Last year I made my appointment for a mammogram after seeing your blog. I need to go make the call again. Thanks!

At 12:49 PM, Blogger Karen said...

I'm glad my comment spurred you on to making your annual appointment, Theresa. I always go with a grumble, but I go.

Mo, you're right about women with no family history getting breast cancer. Someone has to be first, I guess, but I'd prefer it not be me.

At 12:57 PM, Blogger Merrillee said...

Thanks for a very important message.

At 1:57 PM, Blogger Judy said...

Every year, I participate in the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure, here, with my sister, who is a breast cancer survivor, going on eight years. She was in her mid 40s when she was diagnosed. I'm glad she's still here. Self exams are important so you get to know what's normal for you as your body changes, during the monthly cycle, something your doctor can't know with a once-a-year visit. It can also ease worry for you if the doctor finds something that you already know is normal for you, but it's always better to double check. A doctor is happy to say that everything is fine. There's little worse for them than to find themselves asking, "Why didn't you come in sooner, when I could have done something." An important goal in life is not to check out early. :-)

At 7:37 AM, Blogger Terry Odell said...

Yes, yes. Early detection is so important, yet women put off exams because they're afraid - either of the discomfort, or because they might find something. I really can't understand that one. Not knowing doesn't make it go away, it makes it untreatable.

And trust me, the mammogram is a snap as far as diagnostic treatments go. Wait until you need a colonoscopy. But we do those too. Not as often (thank goodness), but again, it beats the alternative.


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