We all know that October is Breast Cancer Awareness month. This year, obviously, awareness has a new meaning for me. I understand it on a different level now. Pink is not just a color in my closet, it's a way of life. A year ago, I was not even remotely at risk in my mind. I felt sad for those who were, but I went about my life having no clue that it could ever happen to me, especially in my 30s. Now, I am practically a poster child.
Today, I thought about the limitations treatment has put on me. I thought about how I have half of the normal amount of weekends because I am too sick to enjoy every other one. It means there are parties I can't attend, and activities that I have to skip. And it means that the ones that I do attend, I am attending with 75% presence because my energy level even on good weekends is substandard.
Then, I thought to myself, it's ok that I am missing my weekends now because it means I will be here for so many more weekends, years and events. As people have said to me, it's one year out of my life. Soon enough, my life will become my own again. I will feel like me again
So as we start Breast Cancer Awareness month, please think of me. Ladies, if you have not done your proper screenings, whether that be self-exams, mammograms, etc. please do so. Gents, presumably, you have ladies in your life. Either remind them to get checked or lend them a helping hand. There is a fan-favorite t-shirt out there that says "save a life, grope your wife". There.... I said it. Hey, whatever works, right?
Keep yourself aware. Not just aware of the pink ribbons, but of the facts. Read the pamphlets. Do a google search. Talk to me or someone else. and NEVER assume that it cannot happen to you. It can. And being "paranoid" if you find something unusual could be all you need to save your life. Don't be afraid to ask questions.
Here are some statistics for you (compiled from the Komen, ACS and Y-Me websites):
- Breast cancer is the second most common diagnosis for women, to skin cancer
- 1 in 8 women will develop breast cancer in their lifetime
- The estimated number of newly diagnosed women in the United States in 2011 is greater than 230,000
- Between 5 and 10% of breast cancers occur under the age of 40 (aren't I lucky?)
- 70% of breast cancer patients found the lump themselves
- When found early, (stage 0 or 1) breast cancer has a 98% survival rate