Breast Cancer Awareness is not just a month. Did you read that? Breast cancer awareness is not just a month. Last blog post I talked about monthly self breast exams and how it’s important to know your body. YOU have to be the advocate for your own body. Learn your body and listen to it.
Breast cancer awareness is year round, starting with your monthly self exams, continuing with annual mammograms and now genetic testing.
Have you done your self breast exam yet? If so – fantastic!! If not – why not? Don’t be afraid to try it. You need to start somewhere even if you feel awkward. Once you know your body it will be easier to talk with your doctor about what changes are happening, if any.
I’d like to squeeze in my thoughts on mammograms. (See what I did there?). What is a mammogram? It is a test that uses X-rays to create images of the breast, much like getting an x-ray of a broken bone however this X-ray shows abnormalities that may occur in the breast. Mammograms are the most effective screening tool used in detecting breast cancer.
There are now 3-D mammograms, which give a more detailed look at the breast; unfortunately the way the test is given hasn’t changed at all… You still have to stand half naked in front of a stranger who arranges your breasts and arms on and around a machine designed to flatten your breast as much as possible so any abnormalities can be seen.
Friends, you know a MAN invented this machine, right? I am not lying. I can imagine him and his colleagues sitting around discussing breast cancer and how to detect it better, when he thought out loud “I wonder how much we can flatten a woman’s breast in order to see calcifications better?”… And who was the poor woman who volunteered for the first flattening? Bless her, she is my hero!
Even though I find this exam awkward I have it done every year without fail. The “stranger” is always a trained medical professional and is always thorough. For me this is not painful at all and it is a very quick process. My drive time to and from the place I have mine done is longer than the actual test.
Ladies – if you haven’t done your self breast exam please start today. If you haven’t had a mammogram please talk to your doctor about when you should have one and how often. Breast cancer awareness is not just ONE month!
I have a mammogram every year no matter what due to family medical history. My mom and a paternal aunt both passed away from breast cancer. I have 2 cousins who have battled breast cancer and are doing well today. When I start naming off who has cancer in my family it makes me feel like the scene in “My Cousin Vinny” when Marisa Tomei is on the witness stand explaining her auto repair experience. Not quite the same but still it always makes me think of that scene.
Understanding our family history prompted me and my sisters to be tested for BRCA1 and BRCA2. Genetic testing is what I will be writing about in the next and last Breast Cancer Awareness Month series.