October: A Time to Celebrate Breast Cancer Awareness
October is known as Breast Cancer Awareness Month, which helps to increase attention and support for the awareness, early detection and treatment as well as palliative care of this disease. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, each year in the United States, more than 245,000 women get breast cancer and more than 40,000 women die from the disease. Other than skin cancer, breast cancer is the most common cancer among American women. Mammograms are the best way to find breast cancer early, when it is easier to treat and before it is big enough to feel or cause symptoms.
Symptoms of Breast Cancer
The most recognized symptom of breast cancer is a lump or mass in the breast tissue. Although some people have no symptoms, symptoms of breast cancer vary from person to person. A few common, early signs of breast cancer include:
- Nipple discharge other than breast milk (including blood)
- Any change in the size or the shape of the breast
- Pain in the area of the breast
- A new lump in the breast or underarm
- Skin changes, such as swelling, redness, or other visible differences in one or both breasts
If you have any signs that worry you, you should see your doctor right away.
The Progress that Has Been Made Thus Far
In addition to sporting bright pink ribbons and participating in breast cancer walks, you can also donate to breast cancer research groups to show your support. This doesn’t just go for October, you can get involved in these efforts year-round. According to the National Cancer Institute’s Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) Program, cancer-related deaths have dropped by an average of 1.9% each year. This is all due to the research and technological advancements that have led to early detection, more accurate screening, and increased treatment options.
How to Make a Difference for Breast Cancer Awareness Month
There are many ways to support the cause and make a difference, such as the following:
Wear a pink ribbon – this is the ultimate symbol of Breast Cancer.
Donate – donations go to providing mammograms, breast health services, education, and support for those in need.
Host a fundraiser – you can do it online or host a work or school event to set up a bake sale, any donations are appreciated and can save a life.
Walk the cause – every year the American Cancer Society hosts an event called Making Strides Against Breast Cancer. You can volunteer to help out at the event or join in yourself!
Donate your hair – losing their hair is one of the many realities women will face while battling breast cancer. You have the ability to give cancer patients wigs full of luscious hair, with the help of different charities, like Locks of Love.
Educate yourself – whether you’re surfing the web, browsing the nearest library, or talking to a cancer patient, it’s important to gain knowledge about the disease.
Learn how to do a self breast-examination – 1 in 8 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in her lifetime. Warning signs include a lump in the breast, a change in breast tissue, nipple tenderness or milky discharge. Even if none of these seem to be apparent, it’s always a good idea to perform monthly self breast-examinations.