October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month...
Yes, I know it's not October yet, but it doesn't hurt to be proactive when it comes to your health. This year was a big year for me... not only did I have my second colonoscopy, but I had my first mamogram. Neither were half as scary as people believe. The mamogram took seconds and didn't hurt at all. The best part of it was the peace of mind that comes with the knowlege from proactive.
So, with October so close... here are just a few things to keep in mind and I got these from the pages of Shape Magazine and an excellent article entitled Your Healthy Brest to-do List by Ginny Graves, a freelance writer. I would highly suggest checking out their October issue on the stands now with Cheryl Crow on the cover. It's a fantastic issue filled with information and ways to support a great cause...
1. Do your self examination... and do them often. The more often that do them the more likely you are to notice small changes before they become BIG problems.
2. Know your family history... forewarned is forearmed and never more so then when it comes to cancer. But I would add that just because it doesn't run in your family that you shouldn't worry about being checked. It has to start somewhere. As someone who lost her mother to colon cancer I can tell you from experience that there was no family history of the cancer. It wasn't until my Uncle developed the cancer that my mother got checked... and at that point she had already developed several polyps. My Uncle was lucky enough to fight it...my mom unfortunately wasn't as lucky.
3. Get screened... As I said at the top of the blog post... I got screened for the first time this year. I'd always heard from my mother that it was uncomfortable, but I really found the whole thing to be just a necessary inconvenience. It took seconds and when handled professionally is just another doctor's visit.
4. Share the data... in the case of Shape Magazine, they suggested that your digital mammogram inforamtion go into a warehousing at the National Digital Medical Archive (ndma.us). It's a free service and keeps your information for easy access by any doctor. I would also say that you should share your information with family members. Gone are the days when medical problems should be a secret. I'm not suggesting you tell every little detail, but I am saying that you should share diagnosis so that others can be tested. If my Uncle hadn't shared his diagnosis my mother would never have been tested... and I would have lost her a lot sooner.
5. Support the cause... Ford, Reebok, Lean Cuisine... they are all national supporters of breast cancer health and research and they offer great deals for those interested in the PINK stuff. But, I would also add that there are many very good local organizations whose work is incredibly valuable to cause. Here in Maine we have the Maine Cancer Community Center which supports both the patient and their families and helps them to have a better life, despite a tricky diagnosis. MCCC holds an auction in October to support their center activities. It's online and there are some great finds from across Maine. They can be found at http://www.cancercommunitycenter.org/
6. This is my own addition to the great list... Appreciate those around you and take comfort and support where you can. Proactiveness, Prevention and Positiveness... these are what I consider to be the three steps to fighting cancer of any kind.