It’s Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Sadly, many of us have experienced cancer first hand or at the very least, we know someone who has.  It is truly a horrible, horrible disease.  This month, we celebrate survivors and remember those we loved who lost their battle…They’re mothers,daughters, grandmothers sisters, wives, and friends…I lost one of my dearest friends in the entire world to this awful disease.  But it is her memory that keeps me, and so many others, fighting to raise awareness.

My dear friend Terri Meyer lived down the street from me for years.  Our daughters played together, grew up and were cheerleaders together.  She was such a gentle, sweet sole. Terri  lost her mother to breast cancer.  She decided right then and there that SHE would be proactive.  She was tested for the gene and began mammograms in her 20’s.  She knew she was at risk so she went above and beyond to be educated and tested.  Unfortunately, she found a lump and was diagnosed with breast cancer in her late 30’s.  She fought back..Terri was a fighter…and she did go into remission.  But the cancer fought harder and returned four years later, this time with a vengeance.  Over the course of the next few years, it spread to her brain, her liver, her spine….But she never ONCE complained or stopped fighting.  I’ve never had such admiration for someone in my entire life.  She was truly amazing.  Two years ago this past June, Terri lost her battle.  I was with her right up until the day before she died.  She was in hospice care and I remember putting lip balm on her lips and she asked me to help her adjust her pillow.  She was slipping in and out of consciousness but I remember telling her I loved her.  She looked right at me and said, “I love you too.”  Those were the last words we ever spoke.  It is her strength and her memory that keeps me involved in trying to raise awareness about breast cancer…Below are some myths and facts about the disease.

Myth:  Finding a lump in your breast means you have breast cancer.

Truth:   If you find a lump, you should see a doctor immediately. BUT 8 out of 10 lumps are benign, or not cancerous.  Sometimes women avoid medical care because of what they might find.  GO TO YOUR DOCTOR!!  Perform routine breast exams and always, always schedule regular mammograms.  Your life is too important to mess around with.  Trust me.

Myth:  Men do not get breast cancer.

Truth:  Each year about 1,700 men will be diagnosed with breast cancer and 450 will die.  Men, too, should give themselves regular breast exams and report any changes to their physicians.

Myth:  A mammogram can cause breast cancer to spread.

Truth:  A mammogram, or X-Ray of the breast is one of the best tools available for early detection of breast cancer.  It CANNOT cause cancer to spread, nor can the pressure put on the breast from the mammogram.  Do not let other people’s experiences prevent YOU from getting a mammogram.

Myth:  Having a family history of breast cancer means you will get it.

Truth:  While women who have a family history of breast cancer are in a higher risk group, most women who have breast cancer have no family history.  If you have a mother, daughter, sister, or grandmother who had breast cancer, you should have a mammogram five years before the age of their diagnosis or starting at age 35.

Myth:  Breast cancer is contagious.

Truth:  You CANNOT catch breast cancer or transfer it to someone else’s body.  It is the result of uncontrolled cell growth in your own body. 

Myth:  Knowing you have changes in the BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene can help you prevent breast cancer.

Truth:  While alterations in these genes in men and women can predispose an individual to increased risk of breast cancer, only 5% to 10% of patients actually have this mutation.  This is not an absolute correlation. 

Myth:  Antiperspirants and deodorants cause breast cancer.

Truth:  Researchers at the National Cancer Institute are not aware of any conclusive evidence linking the use of underarm antiperspirants or deodorants and the subsequent development of breast cancer.

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