This post is something I have had on my mind ever since my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer. But, I never thought I would be writing it. I’m sitting here, drinking my coffee, listening to Christian music, alone in my house. Actually a rare moment for me. But anyways, I wanted to talk about the importance of pink October.
First and foremost, there is only one other case on my mom’s side of the family that I know of. That would be my grandmother who had a melanoma removed from her wrist. But, other than that, no cancer, especially breast cancer. I never thought I would say that my mom has breast cancer. But, I am having to say it and it sucks. Really sucks. I still cry some when I tell people my mom has it. What hurts the most, I know my mom would have been able to catch it before it got where it is now.
My mom has always been the one to just live life as it comes. No extra tests, no extra interventions. When I was a kid, probably around 12 or so, my mom was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. The doctor told her she could probably just control it with diet and minimal meds. I remember this because she was in such denial. I remember she ate whatever, did whatever and didn’t take care of herself. Well, it got to a point that the doctor told her she needed to go on meds because her blood sugar was really high. It took years to get to that point, but it did. She always high blood pressure, which runs in the women in the family. I have been blessed to not have this issue yet. But, I am more active, I eat better than I once did, and so far, its perfect. The last time I had it checked, it was 122/73 or so. They were happy with it. Mom has also been on meds for high cholesterol and this is where I believe her breast cancer risk went through the roof. They put my mom on Lipitor. It is a statin. It has been linked to breast cancer with long term use. My mom had been on it for as long as I can remember. I know probably 20 or so years. On top of her lack of diet to get the cholesterol down and genetics, she was on it because it would not go down. Then you add her addiction to diet coke. It was really bad. It at first wasn’t so bad, then it gradually got to a point that would be all she would drink, especially at home. If we went out, she would get tea and add Equal or Sweet N Low to it. Aspartame also has been linked to cancer. Do you see where I am going with this?? Diet has played a huge part of her cancer diagnosis. Sometimes it is really hard to not blame her for it. I mean seriously, she didn’t care. But, she enjoyed it and I guess I have to rejoice in the fact that she was happy and did have that carefree spirit that I so long to have sometimes.
At age 50, there is a recommendation for mammograms. I believe she had one, but after that, she said no more. I know in the last oh say 20 years, she has refused a mammogram. She didn’t see the point of if. I kept my mouth shut because I believe she should have for me. I mean, why would you not screen for something that will potentially kill you and see if I am going to be at risk for it. Then the day that I was helping my mom with something, I saw the spot on her breast. I will never forget that image. It was horrible. I got the deepest, darkest feeling I have ever felt. I knew deep down inside. Red dimpling on her left breast close to the armpit. Dad had seen it and thank goodness he went with me to her doctors appointment. April 17, 2017 will be the day that changed everything. The doctor saw it, she knew but wanted her to go through the testing. April 18, we celebrated her 71st birthday. April 19 started all the testing. Mammogram, MRI, biopsy. If mom would have had regular mammograms, she would not have needed all of this. There is no telling how long she had had it, but it had been a while since it was in multiple areas of her body. The day we got the results forever changed all of us. I was in shock, but yet, I already knew.
October is breast cancer awareness month. Pink is the color for breast cancer. Breast cancer is not just a woman’s cancer. Men get it to, but yet, they do not get the attention that is needed.
- About 1 in 8 U.S. women (about 12%) will develop invasive breast cancer over the course of her lifetime.
- About 2,470 new cases of invasive breast cancer are expected to be diagnosed in men in 2017. A man’s lifetime risk of breast cancer is about 1 in 1,000.
- More can be read here at this link : http://www.breastcancer.org/symptoms/understand_bc/statistics
I put this here because there are so many risk factors that make you have breast cancer. Medicine, diet, age, genetics, race, along with other factors can lead to it. With my mom being the only one to have breast cancer, my risk doubles. If I had two first degree relatives (mother, sister, daughter) risks is 5 times more. With risk factors, recommended age to start getting mammograms is age 40.
Prevention and early detection starts at home. Not smoking, healthy diet, and self exams. I realize there is a lot reports that state that mammograms are not always right. The way I look at it is that there are some things not always 100%, but to have extra testing just in case, especially when your risk factors are higher, it is worth it.
I have several friends who have had breast cancer. They are here today because of regular exams and following their doctor’s advise. Men and women need to check themselves. It can happen to anyone. It can come out of no where. My mom decided to not go with any treatment and I understand. With her dementia, she knows what will come. Yes, she is scared. We are all scared. I know with my mom’s medical history, I am up a huge wall. Diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, dementia and cancer. My dad’s side has cancer in every generation that I have been able to track. My great grandfather..colon or prostate cancer (can’t remember which one), grandfather..stomach cancer, great uncle..kidney cancer, aunt..bladder cancer that spread to her gallbladder. I am up a huge wall on both sides, so it is up to me to make sure my risks are down by taking care of myself.
Women, please check yourselves in the shower and laying in bed. It only takes a minute. If you are not sure how, please watch this. It is a visual of how to check.
This is to hopefully make you all realize breast cancer is real. It is deadly. And it effects not only the person that has it, but those that are around.