October is Pink Ribbon month and we’re doing our little part to remind everyone, both men and women, to support the fight against this deadly disease.
First things first, did you know that men can also get breast cancer? The American Cancer Society concludes it only occurs in about 1% of men, which results in an estimated 390 deaths a year and the leading cause is obesity. While it is extremely rare, if a male with a BMI of over 30 notices skin dimpling or puckering, nipple retraction, redness or scaling of the nipple or breast skin, or nipple discharge he should seek medical attention. A regular mammogram will diagnose if there is cancer and options for treatment will be given. However, to avoid such deadly diseases, a decrease in body weight by 5 – 10% can make all the difference.
Among women however, breast cancer is deadly, accounting for almost 23% of cancers worldwide and approximately 4,000 deaths in the U.S. alone each year. In 2008, breast cancer caused 458,503 deaths worldwide (Wikipedia). The diagnosis of breast cancer can be crippling, as treatment options are gruelling on the body and may include hair loss, secondary illnesses and loss of breasts. For many women, a mastectomy can be the greatest hardship to endure and one that others may find difficult to understand.
Still, there’s hope and here’s how we go about “saving the breasts”:
Do your breast exam
If you haven’t read the diagram in your doctor’s office on your last check up, Google it. Once you’ve got the technique down, routinely give your breasts a quick search for lumps or any abnormal changes. If you notice a lump, puckering in the breast or nipple area, changes in colour or texture, or any clear or bloody fluid leaking out, then seek your medical practitioner for an opinion. It’s best to do this on the same day every month.
When it comes to cancer, early detection can almost always mean life-saving treatment in the nick of time. Starting treatment before the cancer gets a chance to become aggressive can also mean less of a chance of a relapse. Once cancer is detected it’s time to make serious changes in your lifestyle, which may include quitting smoking, drinking and lowering your weight. While strenuous exercise may be difficult, meditative exercise like yoga or pilates, can put your body and mind in fighting form.
Surround yourself with a close knit team of family and friends who are willing to go through this with you. Now is not the time to be proud, ask for help if you need it, from having meals delivered to being driven to doctor’s appointments. Emotionally, rely on good friends to cheer you up, inspire you and keep you strong especially in your weakest moments. Let them know what you need, when you need it, because hey, it’s your life you’re fighting for.
Join the cause – breast cancer awareness is a movement that’s constantly growing, fighting for a cure and an end to this deadly disease. If you, or someone you know has been diagnosed with breast cancer, join a foundation for insight about the disease, support groups and even free treatment options.