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Sunday, October 7, 2007

Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Okay, it is October, Breast Cancer Awareness Month, as if anyone who reads this blog needs to be made aware of breast cancer. But I know when you read about Andrea and her fight it might make you dread breast cancer so much you don't want to do your monthly check ups because you don't want to face all this. I hope that is not the case, I hope it makes you want to check, and be the first line of defense. Unfortunately beast cancer is far too common for woman today and even worse it seems in to affect younger and younger woman.

I want you to know not checking will not make it go away. The only way to fight this is to know and know as early as you can. God forbid any of you face this, I pray none of you will, but I also know the best thing you can do use a combination of screening starting with a monthly self exam. Don't let the fear that you may find something stop you. The odds really are that it is nothing, but if it is finding it only helps.

There are times when Andrea is feeling good and it is time for a CT scan or tumor marker and I would rather not do the test because I think the results will end our time of peace. There are times when I just don't want to know because I don't want to deal with it. In the end it is knowing, even the bad news, that allows the doctors to treat Andrea.

As you may know Andrea found her tumor by a self exam. The Mammogram did not show the tumor and only after Andrea's insistence did the doctor order a ultrasound and saw the tumor. I tell you this to remind you to be aggressive in checking, and listen to your body, no doctor knows you better than yourself.

Breast cancer is very very curable when found early and the first line of defense is you. The best way to avoid what Andrea is going through is not to be afraid of finding a lump and know your body by doing monthly checks, and if needed be assertive with your doctor. The American Cancer Society is a great source of information. www.cancer.org Here is a summary of their recommendations:

1. Breast self exam (BSE). Becomes an option for women starting in their 20s. Women who choose to do BSE should have their BSE technique reviewed during their physical exam by a health professional. It is okay for women to choose not to do BSE or not to do it on a regular schedule. However, by doing the exam regularly, you get to know how your breasts normally look and feel and you can more readily detect any signs or symptoms if a change occurs

2. Clinical breast exam (CBE). Breast exam by a health professional every year. Every three years for women age 20-30 and every year after age 40.

3. Mammogram. Current evidence supporting mammograms is even stronger than in the past. In particular, recent evidence has confirmed that mammograms offer substantial benefit for women in their 40s.

This combined approach is clearly better than any one exam or test alone. Without question, breast physical exam without a mammogram would miss the opportunity to detect many breast cancers that are too small for a woman or her doctor to feel but can be seen on mammograms. While mammograms are a sensitive screening method, a small percentage of breast cancers do not show up on mammograms but can be felt by a woman or her doctors. For women at high risk of breast cancer, such as those with BRCA gene mutations or a strong family history, both MRI and mammogram exams of the breast are recommended.

As aware all of you are to the horrors of breast cancer don't make it bigger then it is. I could give you facts like 1 in 8 of you will get breast cancer in their life, but 98% of breast cancer is curable when caught early. Remember 7 in 8 won't get breast cancer and there is a 97% chance breast cancer will not be the cause of your death.

I hope this reminder helps you. I feel it is part of our responsibility to raise awareness in the hopes one of you will benefit from all Andrea and I have gone through.

God bless each of you for all you do for us. Your prayers and encouragement are a big part of our ability to keep on fighting.

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