Today I am very pleased to have my friend Lacey, guest posting on the blog today. Today she is sharing the story of her grandmother’s fight with breast cancer and why the month of October is so special to her.
Each year October rolls around you notice the sight of pumpkins, fall foliage, and pink. October is officially Breast Cancer Awareness month. Now I will be honest, until two years ago I didn’t know this. I never noticed the pink attire of others or pink ribbons around town. What changed? I found out cancer hit home. That will always bring new perspective to your life.
Two years ago my grandmother shared her story with me. She was always a private woman. She was hard working and a single mother to five children. Through sickness or good health, she never skipped a beat. This is probably why the story she shared was news to me. It still remains a mystery to others.
Seventeen years prior to our sit down, my grandmother was diagnosed with Breast Cancer. My grandmother kept this diagnosis to herself. At the time, her youngest was still in high school. My aunt, living in the home at the time, was unaware of what was going on with my grandmother. This is, until my grandmother underwent her mastectomy.
I cannot imagine what it was like for my grandmother. How do you keep such big news a secret? My grandmother managed to do so. She had her surgery and treatment and went about her life. She went back to work and back to her motherly duties.
There we sat 17 years later on the couch in her living room. She was a survivor, I knew a cancer survivor. Wow! I had no idea. I knew my grandmother was a strong woman but this was confirmation. Had it been me, I probably would have been shouting from the rooftop. My grandmother, however, did not see this experience as a big deal. For her it wasn’t more serious than the common cold.
From this day forward, I made it my mission to educate myself and others including my grandmother on this thing called Breast Cancer. Now every October all I see is pink. All I wear is pink. Whenever I can, I try to educate others and encourage them to wear pink.
I recently participated in a door decorating contest and the theme to my door was “Cancer Awareness is a Matter of Facts.” I truly believe that if women, and men, are aware, then they have taken the first step towards prevention. Breast cancer is inevitable in some women. However, the sooner it is detected, the sooner it can be treated.
One in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime. Now think about that. You go to lunch with seven of your book club buddies. All eight of you are sitting there around the table. Now, imagine that one of you will be diagnosed with breast cancer. It could be you, it could be one of them. In that moment, reality really begins to sink in.
Are you wearing a watch right now? Time this, 19 seconds. Time is up! In that 19 seconds somewhere in the world, someone has just been diagnosed with breast cancer. Start the time again, this time 74 seconds. This time, someone in the world has just died from breast cancer. So that is globally. Let us bring it home. In the United States, every 2 minutes someone is diagnosed with breast cancer and every 13 minutes a woman dies.
In 2014, it was estimated that 40,000 women would die of breast cancer. Over 220,000 new cases would be diagnosed. Those are all someone’s mothers, sisters, aunts, daughters, niece, wives, or friends. That is not all. We are losing our men too. You might be thinking, men? Yes, men too can get breast cancer. We are losing approximately 400 men each year to breast cancer. This is significantly low compared to women but still a great loss.
What can we do to help ourselves and those we love? Just being aware of this possible reality is not enough. We need to be proactive. Women over the age of 40 should get a mammogram done annually. Women between the ages of 20-40 should get a clinical breast exam every three years. All women should do a monthly breast exam on their self. They are yours, so why not get acquainted with them?
We can also help ourselves by staying physically active. Research is showing that exercise plays a role in risk reduction of breast cancer. The American Cancer Society recommends that we get 2.5 hours of moderate intensity or 1.25 hours of vigorous intensity activity each week. It has also been stated that brisk walking reduced a woman’s risk by 18%. That’s huge! In other words, get up and move! Start walking!
Just being aware of breast cancer is simply just not enough. We are all aware this monster called cancer exists. We know it is taking the lives of our loved ones. Now we need to do something about it. Early detection is the best protection! Put your monthly self-exam on the calendar today.