The month of October is upon us. The surge of pink is impending. Admittedly, everything looks cuter with a little pink in it. At least that’s my take on it. But there is nothing remotely cute about Breast Cancer.
I still embrace pink. I am aware. O God, I am so aware of this illness. Every 14 minutes someone gets diagnosed with this illness. How can anyone not be aware? Awareness is a good thing, raising awareness is a good thing.
I was aware, aware for the last 20 years that this is a fatal illness. When I said goodbye to my aunt, I was aware what breast cancer can do. So aware of the trauma her kids underwent.
I was aware, as I sat with my other aunt during her chemo infusions at the hospital, taking time off from my medical school classes to keep her company.
I was aware that some survive, others don’t.
I examined my self regularly since my 20s. I was very familiar with the texture of my dense breast. Lumpy and nodular especially before my cycle. My first mammogram was at 25 years of age.
I was always familiar with a breast surgeon in my network of doctors. I breastfed two children for over a year each.
I was aware of the risks.
I had 2 mammograms six months apart prior to my cancer, a 7 cm mass that never formed a lump. Just a change in the texture of the breast tissue, that only I could tell felt different.
I was aware of the density issue, I had an ultrasound too, which was normal.
Yes, awareness and mammograms help, but in the end, it was my gut feeling that made me locate the lump in my armpit. A swollen axillary lymph node that is never good news.
So those that read this today, please, examine yourself, know your body and your breasts. Mammograms do save lives but maybe not yours. For me, mammograms were a false sense of security. It was a self-exam that saved my life.
So when you see the pink ribbons all over, ask yourself, when was the last time I properly examined my breasts? When was the last time my doctor taught me how to examine my breasts?
Know your genetic risk, I don’t have the BRCA gene but due to two family members, my risk was higher. Know your family history.
Take care of yourself, eat well and exercise. I did all of that. I still got cancer but it was my fate based on my genetic makeup.
Your outcome can be different, why wouldn’t you give your self that chance?