BREAST CANCER AWARENESS
October is national Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and while survival rates are improving and despite decades of pink fundraising and promotional campaigns, too many women, particularly young women, still are losing their lives to this disease.
The impact of a breast cancer diagnosis is far-reaching and enduring. The person diagnosed is devastated, fearful and alone – life as they know it is different – and their focus now is on their journey through surgery, chemotherapy and/or radiation therapy.
Family and friends are also affected. Breast cancer patients need emotional, physical and mental support. Sadly, many also need financial support – this can cause significant stress in a family already under stress and the deleterious consequences of the breast cancer diagnosis deepen.
The good news for local breast cancer patients is Blush Cancer Care. This locally based not-for-profit provides support for patients from the day of diagnosis all the way through treatment and after.
However, the real bright light in the breast cancer story is early detection. Early detection is the key to surviving breast cancer and in this month of October we remind men (yes men get breast cancer too) and women to check their breasts regularly.
If you notice: a new lump or lumpiness, especially if it’s only in one breast
a change in the size or shape of your breast
a change to the nipple, such as crusting, ulcer, redness or inversion
a nipple discharge that occurs without squeezing
a change in the skin of your breast such as redness or dimpling
an unusual pain that doesn’t go away Please see your doctor.
If you have a family history (i.e. a first-degree female relative with breast cancer) it is wise to have a regular breast check, which may include a mammogram and/or ultrasound and even an MRI. If you are really concerned about your family history (i.e. you have a first-degree female relative diagnosed with breast cancer before the age of 40) you might consider being tested to see if you carry either the BRCA 1 or BRCA 2 gene mutations. These tests do incur a substantial out-of-pocket fee.
To raise funds in support of breast cancer services at St Vincent’s, the hospital is running a bra decorating competition and entries are on display in the hospital foyer during October.
Funds raised will go towards Breast Care Services at St Vincent’s Private Hospital Toowoomba.