October is not only filled with the colors of orange and black, but more importantly, pink. October is Breast Cancer Awareness month, a month full of information, fundraising, and unity. All across the country, this campaign, is something that everyone can find a way to get involved with.
1 in 8 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime, and by detecting it early in the localization stage, your 5 year survival rate will increase by 98%. Breast cancer can have many symptoms, but usually only 1 or 2 will be noticeable.
Such symptoms can be detected by self-exams that can be performed in the privacy of your own home and are very simple. If your breasts have any of these symptoms, it does not necessarily mean you have cancer, but a visit to your doctor is highly recommended. If your nipples are tender, or turned slightly inward or inverted. If your skin around your breasts becomes red, dimpled, or changes in shape or size, especially if it only occurs to one breast. A lump in the breast, not all lumps are cancerous, 8 out of 10 are not, but if you become aware of one, even near your underarms, you should immediately see your healthcare professional.
Performing a breast examination at home is quick and easy, and is advised to be performed once a month in order to remain familiarized with your breasts if you were to notice any changes. To perform an examination, you can either be in the shower, or in front of a mirror.
In the shower, use your fingers and move around your breast in a circular pattern moving from the outside to the center, while also checking your underarms. You should be looking out for hardened knots, thickening, or lumps.
In front of your mirror, visually inspect your breasts while your arms are at your sides, and once more while your arms are raised overhead. Next, rest your palms on your hips and press down against your body, flexing your chest muscles. Your breasts will almost never match, but notice any extreme dimpling or puckering, especially on one side.
If you don’t trust giving yourself an examine, getting a mammogram is your best option. Mammography can detect tumors before they can be felt by your hands, making the machines your best ally. Not only do they show lumps, but tiny clusters of calcium called microcalcirications. It is recommended by the National Cancer Institute that if you are over the age of 40, you should start going for annual screenings.
Fundraising is so important during this month because not only are healthcare costs at an all-time high, but the percentage of uninsured women has also increased. By not being able to afford screening these women if diagnosed, have a much higher risk of not surviving this cancer. Getting involved with fundraising during Breast Cancer Awareness month is easy; here are a few ways how.
Monetary donations, on the website nationalbreastcancer.org you can find multiple links on where you can donate. Donations can range from anything to paying for women to receive free mammograms ($100 per woman), other breast help services, and educational events.
Gather up your friends and family and create your own fundraising event. Nationalbreastcaner.org will help you get started with planning your own walk, run, or even a concert in your area. If you feel that planning an event is not something you can handle, on the site you can also find events that are already in the works and join in.
For those who find they have some spare time on their hands during the month of October, there are many fun ways to become a breast cancer awareness volunteer. You can either become a NBCF’S Virtual volunteer, where you follow nationalbreastcancer.com on twitter and facebook, sharing their messages, and retweeting. Or you can join NBCF’s Outreach Volunteer Program where you will be helping others plan early detection plans, fundraising, and where to have free screenings for those in need.
There is currently no known cure for breast cancer, and until one is found, the only way we can help is by committing to always raise awareness, be informed, volunteer, and remember that performing self-examines is not only easy, but can save your life.