Well, I made it to the end of October without talking about Pinktober, aka breast cancer awareness month. I have to admit that this month didn’t bother me as much as in other years. Were the pink ribbons not that noticeable, or have I become immune?
I fully understand the point of Pinktober, but many survivors get frustrated that the message has been pink-washed. I mean, how much “awareness” does one need? Is there anyone out there who isn’t “aware” that breast cancer exists? And what of those companies that don the pink ribbons, and yet, sell products that contribute to cancer? I won’t even get into all of the awareness messages that are all about “saving the ta-tas” and what not. Shouldn’t we be focusing on saving the person? I just ask that you be sensitive to survivors on some of these awareness campaigns. While good intentioned, just consider them from the point of view of survivor… who may not actually have been able to save her ta-tas…
Anyway, soapbox done.
Instead of continuing my rant, I thought I would share some facts to help improve your awareness. You know breast cancer exists, but do you know….
- We lump (pun intended) all breast cancer into one category, but there are actually many different types, depending on where they are located (ductal versus lobular), sensitivity to hormones (estrogen/progesterone positive/negative), genetic makeup, etc. Some have better success rates than others, so be mindful of this when talking to your BC friends. For example: I had invasive lobular carcinoma, ER & PR positive.
- There are multiple stages of breast cancer development, depending on size, lymph node invasion and metastasis. I was Stage IIIA, T3 N1 M0.
- There are ways to reduce your risk of breast cancer! (Wouldn’t you rather prevent it in the first place? Or at least try?) These include: nutrition, exercise, weight management, not smoking, watching alcohol intake, and avoiding environmental toxins).
- The best foods to stave off cancer? Greens, beans, onions, mushrooms, berries and seeds. (Known as “G-BOMBS” by Dr Fuhrman).
- Mammograms do not find 1 in 5 cancers and do not improve mortality. (I went faithfully and mammograms completely missed my tumor, which was stage III / 8 cm at removal.) Read: Limitations of Mammograms
- There are alternatives to mammograms, such as ultrasounds (it was an ultrasound that eventually found my tumor), MRIs, and thermograms. Do your homework to determine which is best/safest for you, what your insurance will pay for, and the benefits/risks of each.
- Men can get breast cancer, too — about 2100 cases a year, with almost 500 deaths.
- There are also alternatives to breast reconstruction. More and more women are opting to “go flat”, but many women are not presented with this as an option at diagnosis and regret it later. I’ve been lucky to connect with women across the country as part of the My Flat Friends Facebook group. Here are a few articles about how many women are trying to spread the word about this option!
CBS News: A Matter of Choice
NBC Today: Living Flat and Fabulous
Hopefully you learned something new and are more aware as we close out Pinktober!
IMDb: Aware (2016)