Breast Cancer Awareness: Why It’s Important 

Happy October! It’s officially spooky season. But October is also more than just Halloween— it’s Breast Cancer Awareness month. This is a month to spread love, awareness and kind words to all who are fighting against this disease. I believe knowledge is power, and the more awareness we can spread, the more good we can do. This is my personal story with breast cancer, and the recent news that has brought it even closer to my life.

 

 

Breast cancer is very personal to me. My great-grandmother died of breast cancer when my grandmother was only a child.  A lifetime later, my grandmother herself fought for 8 years and ultimately passed away from breast cancer. Her niece has also battled this disease and thankfully is a survivor. Although breast cancer is awful in many ways, it is gut-wrenching to see it take a life. My grandmother was the strongest woman I have ever known, and even though she died in 2006, I continue to learn from her every day. Her strength in battling this disease inspires me to live every day in love. She lived by the phrase “Live, Love, Laugh” (long before it was popular), and I work my hardest to live that way every day in her honor.

 

 

Recently, breast cancer has become even more meaningful in my life. Due to breast cancer being so prevalent in my family, I was encouraged to get tested for the BRCA 1 and 2 gene mutations. These are the “breast cancer” genes, and being BRCA positive raises my chances of cancer pretty significantly, although doesn’t guarantee I will develop it. This past month, I was told I do indeed have the BRCA 2 gene. This means is that I have to start getting mammograms and MRIs starting at age 26, and get tested more frequently than a woman without the gene. I also have an increased risk of ovarian cancer. This news was really difficult for me, as it suddenly makes breast cancer much more of a reality. I have chosen to firmly believe that knowledge is power, and I choose to share this diagnosis to help with awareness of genetic testing and to make others with a positive result feel less alone. I am also making positive changes to my diet, exercise regime, as well as begining to take vitamins and supplements to help minimize my chances of a cancer diagnosis.

 

 

Whether breast cancer affects you personally or not, this month is important for everyone. For all women, it is a time to spread knowledge and awareness. 1 in 8 women are affected by breast cancer at some point in their lives. Getting tested annually (typically starting at age 40) and having honest conversations with our doctors is vital to our health. Similarly, it is a time to realize that breast cancer can affect men, as they can get breast cancer as well. I would encourage you all to spend some time reading up on breast cancer, learning how to do self breast exams and asking if you are a candidate for genetic testing.  This way you can help protect yourself and use this information to help others. Let’s see a cure for breast cancer in our lifetime!