In The Pink!

Are You Thinking Pink?

All around the area the color of the day is pink.  It is October and Breast Cancer Awareness Month.    According to the Center for Disease Control, the best way to detect breast cancer early is with a mammogram. If you are a woman age 50 years or older, be sure to have a screening mammogram every two years.  While heart disease still ranks highest in causes of death for women age 40 and above, all women are at risk for breast cancer and it is the most common cancer in women of all combined major racial and ethnic groups in the United States.*(CDC website)

What Are the Symptoms of Breast Cancer?

When breast cancer starts out, it is often too small to feel and may not cause symptoms or show signs.  Yet, as it grows, the cancer can begin to cause changes in the breast.  These changes or symptoms may include:

  • A new lump in the breast.
  • A lump that has changed.
  • Pain in the breast or nipple that does not go away.
  • A nipple that is very tender or may suddenly turn inward.
  • A change in the size or shape of the breast.

Talk with your health care professional, if you have any of the above symptoms.  It will be the only way to know for sure.

Can Breast Cancer Be Prevented?

While scientists are studying how best to prevent breast cancer, there are ways to help lower your risk of getting breast cancer.  According to the Susan G. Komen for the Cure website, a number of factors have been identified by researchers that increase a person’s chances of getting breast cancer.  While these risk factors do not cause breast cancer, as stated, the chances increase.  Being a woman is the number one risk factor for breast cancer.  Some additional risk factors include:

  • getting older
  • a family history of breast cancer
  • having high breast density on a mammogram
  • never having children
  • having your first child after age 35
  • gaining weight as an adult
  • being overweight after menopause
  • having more than one drink of alcohol per day
  • being younger than 12 at the time of your first period
  • current or recent use of birth control pills
  • having a previous biopsy showing hyperplasia (the body building extra cells in organs and tissue)

Even though you do not have any of the above risk factors, you can still develop breast cancer.  Again, the best advice is to talk to your personal healthcare provider.

Healthy Living

Leading a healthy lifestyle may lower your risk for breast cancer.  Physical activity will burn calories and it may also help lower the risk for breast cancer.  By exercising, you are fighting obesity, lowering your insulin levels, boosting the function of immune system cells that attack tumors, and lowering estrogen levels.  So check with your healthcare provider if you have been inactive for a long time or at risk for heart disease or other chronic health problem.  Then Get Moving!  Build physical activity that you enjoy into your daily routine.  Check out our recent article on Back to the Gym!

Weight Control and Nutrition play an important part in maintaining healthy living.  Several increased risks for breast cancer related to your weight include gaining weight after menopause and gaining 20 pounds or more after the age of 18.  You are what you eat is true in regard to breast cancer.  Strive to eat at least 5 servings of fruit and vegetables each day.  Choose whole grains for your breads and cereals.  Cut back on high fat foods and desserts and take a multi-vitamin with folate every day.  One other part of healthy living is to get plenty of calcium.  Your body needs at least a 1000 mg of calcium each day.  Low fat milk or yogurt and fortified fruit juices will help along with calcium tablets.

On A Personal Note

I am a 7 year breast cancer survivor and struggled with this article.  My insurance company denied for the first time my annual CT scan for follow-up detection of breast cancer.  I also recently read several articles from concern with the overuse of the color pink to questioning monetary donations to breast cancer research.  After those two downers, I read my journal again from my year of chemotherapy and radiation.  One statement I wrote in 2004 stands out in my mind – “I want to hold my grand-babies before I die.”  Only one of my sons was married at the time of my diagnosis and actually no grandchildren were on the horizon.  In 2004, my youngest son married (my last month of chemo) and in January, 2005 my first granddaughter was born followed by her cousin in October, then I was blessed with grandsons in 2007 and 2009.  The girls’ favorite color is pink, of course.  So in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month and the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure, I am wearing pink “Princesses Rule” nail color, my pink ring, my pink sweater, and sneakers.  On October 30, 2010 I will wear my pink survivor T-shirt, my pink cap and participate with an outstanding team for the fight against breast cancer.  Pink! Rules!

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