Breast Cancer Awareness Month is an annual campaign to increase awareness and reduce stigma around breast cancer organized by several breast cancer charities every October. Breast Cancer Awareness Month helps educate others on what breast cancer is, signs and symptoms of breast cancer, what you can do to lower your risk of breast cancer, and also increases support for the disease which leads to increased funding for research and treatment of breast cancer.
What is Breast Cancer?
Breast cancer is a type of cancer that forms in the cells of the breast. The cancer starts because of cells growing out of control. Breast cancer is the second most common cancer diagnosed in women in the United States, with skin cancer being the most common. Breast cancer occurs mostly in women; however, men can slo get breast cancer. Breast cancer cells may metastasize through your breast to your lymph nodes or other parts of your body.
Currently, the average risk of a woman in the United States developing breast cancer sometime in her life is about 13%, meaning there is a 1 in 8 chance she will develop breast cancer. Most breast cancer affects women who are 50 years old or older; however, 10% of the cases of breast cancer are found in women younger than 45 years old. At this time there are more than 3.5 million breast cancer survivors in the United States, including women still being treated and those who have completed treatment. The 2019 American Cancer Society’s estimates for breast cancer in the United States are:
- Approximately 268,600 new cases of invasive breast cancer will be diagnosed in women.
- Approximately 62,930 new cases of carcinoma in situ (CIS) will be diagnosed (CIS is non-invasive and is the earliest form of breast cancer).
- Approximately 41,760 women will die from breast cancer.
Signs and Symptoms of Breast Cancer:
- A breast lump or thickening that feels different from surrounding tissue
- Change in the size, shape, or appearance of your breast
- Changes to skin over and around the breast
- A newly inverted nipple
- Peeling, crusting, or flaking of the area of skin surrounding the nipple (areola) or breast skin
What You Can Do to Prevent or Lower Risks of Breast Cancer:
There are many ways to lower your risk or to take preventative measures against breast cancer, including:
- Early screenings and regular mammograms beginning at the age of 50 or younger if you are at a higher risk
- Awareness of family health and genetic factors
- Healthy lifestyle and environmental factors including exercise, healthy diet, and lowering your alcohol intake
- Becoming familiar with your breasts so you can detect any changes
- Limiting postmenopausal hormone therapy
Why Is Breast Cancer Awareness Important?
The support from breast cancer awareness creates significant support for the education of breast cancer which leads to women around the world becoming more educated on the signs and symptoms of breast cancer. The awareness campaign also creates support for research funding that has helped created advances in the diagnosis and treatment of breast cancer. Because of breast cancer awareness, breast cancer survival rates have increased. The number of deaths associated with the disease are declining, because of the awareness leading to earlier detection, newer approaches to treatment, and an overall better understanding of the disease.
Most importantly, talk to your doctor today to take the needed measures against breast cancer and to find out if you are at an increased risk.
Statistics were taken from the American Cancer Society.
How Breast Cancer Has Affected My Life
By Kimberly Wilson
Breast cancer! It has always been a part of my life! At the age of eight, my beautiful, hard working, loving Mother was diagnosed with breast cancer. While growing up, all I knew was her being sick. Even though she tried very hard to hide it, I knew something was wrong. I spent a lot of time at Duke Hospital in Durham, NC while growing up. I watched her take treatments and fight to live all the while being there for me and my sisters. On July 24, 1985, our whole world changed! Our rock, the glue that held my family together, was gone. I miss her so much everyday, and I know she shines down on me and my sisters.
Breast cancer doesn’t just stop with our mom. On November 17, 2007, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I will never forget that day, because everything from my childhood, with my mom, came flooding back. What do I do now? I am a single mom of three, and Zoey is only five months old. I fight that’s what I do! On February 7, 2008, I went in for a double mastectomy, because I am also BRCA gene positive. I wanted to be here for my children, so this was the right choice. Throughout the years, I have spent a lot of time with my oncologist, but I am still here, and I am a fighter. I get that toughness from my mom. She taught me and all my sisters to be fighters and we are.
So, for Breast Cancer Awareness Month, make sure to take care of yourself, ladies! Go get checked and raise awareness!!
In Honor of Zula Silver Wilson
by Karen Fox
At twelve o’clock midnight on July 23rd, 1985, my life changed forever. My mother, my best friend and my encourager, after a courageous and well fought battle with breast cancer, left this world. I remember sitting in the darkness on the steps of the hotel I was staying at in Durham, North Carolina screaming at the stars, God, and the universe to bring her back.
Throughout the years, I have survived without my mother, and there are still days I can almost touch her spirit. I live for those days. And then…there are days that the pain of losing her overwhelms me. It is those times that I lean on her words of wisdom from long ago. Words that have shaped me into the person I am today. I hear her telling me to never give up, to reach toward my dreams, to find my purpose and stay true to myself..and above all..to treasure life, for it is a gift that can be taken away in a blink of an eye.
My mother did not strive for fame. My mother’s greatest accomplishment was the love of her family. My mother’s greatest fight was her fight against breast cancer. Her battle taught me well. Her battle taught me to value life and to embrace it with every fiber in my being.
My inspiration, my greatest supporter, and my hero is my mother, Zula Wilson, a brave warrior who fought the fight of breast cancer with everything she had for the love of her daughters.