I am sure you all know that today marks the beginning of breast cancer awareness month. While breast cancer is an issue that deserves our attention 365 this is the month that everyone goes extra hard. In honor of the estimated 231,840 new cases of invasive breast cancer and the 40,290 breast cancer deaths among women in the United States (2015) and women around the world; I want to share with you some of my truth.
Although I don’t just insert it into every conversation, I am a breast cancer survivor. Yep, my left breast tried to kill me…. BUT GOD!! . On October 12, 2010, I was diagnosed with stage 1b DCIS breast cancer. After surgery, I was required to take both radiation, chemotherapy (pill form) and hormone therapy (which i am still taking) as treatment.
While the ordeal was traumatic for me and I spiraled into a deep depression, it seems so mediocre when I think about my friends and love ones who lost their battle or are still on the battle field. My chemotherapy was in the form of a pill and my cancer was never life threatening. However, just the words, “You have cancer” seemed like a death sentence. Especially since I had witnessed my friend (my children’s paternal aunt) Shameka Hadley succumb to cancer in 2003 at the young age of 26.
During that time I learned a lot; about myself, about the people around me and I developed a relationship with God that is greater than I ever had. Was it something that I enjoyed? No! However, I can say that I appreciate the growth that came from it.
Breast cancer is not gender, age or race specific; it effects all of us. For that reason, it will take a collective effort to bring an end to it and that starts with us. Self-checks, mammograms, support and spreading knowledge; are all vital.
Since knowledge is queen, allow me to share some numbers with you in case you are still not convinced the breast cancer effects all of us.
- The incidence (new cases) of breast cancer has been higher among white women than among black women.
- Although the number of new cases are higher in white women, more black women die from breast cancer than any other race of women.
- The two most common factors of breast cancer are being a female and age (older woman).
- Breast cancer is the leading cause of cancer death (death from any type of cancer) among women ages 20 to 59.
- Breast cancer in men is rare, but it does happen. In the U.S., about one percent of all breast cancer cases occur in men.
- Before menopause, being overweight or obese modestly decreases breast cancer risk.
- After menopause, being overweight or obese increases breast cancer risk.
- Gaining weight in adulthood appears to increase the risk of breast cancer before and after menopause.
- Women with larger breast have as much as 6 times higher risk of developing breast cancer.