I remember puberty and the joyful anticipation of getting breasts and my first bra. It took longer than I had hoped but with a little creativity on my part, Charmin and I helped Mother Nature and I have managed very nicely since. Seriously though, breasts are beautiful and special but too often they’re like all our other parts that we have two of—eyes, legs, hands, ears—we take them for granted until there is a problem. Thankfully, October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month and our amazing breasts take center stage to be appreciated and cared for, on purpose.
Breast cancer still strikes fear in the hearts of those who receive the diagnosis and many folks say during that doctor’s visit, they don’t remember anything else after the word cancer was spoken. One December when I got my mammogram, there was some irregularity but the follow-up couldn’t be done until January 6th. Talk about a miserable holiday—I didn’t want to alarm my family so I worried the Lord until then.
During that time, I vividly remembered my grandmother’s fears about cancer—any kind of cancer. She’d say I think I’ve got “c.” She wouldn’t even say the word. When I went for my follow-up, I was fine. Now, through early detection, screenings, and improved treatment, breast cancer survivors, more than 2.9 million according to researchers, are now the largest group of all cancer survivors.
Here are important facts to consider this month: Support, research and treatment continues to improve, but there is still no cure; the American Cancer Society’s 2018 estimates for breast cancer in the United States reports “about 266,120 new cases of invasive breast cancer will be diagnosed in women and… about 40,920 women will die from breast cancer;” according to breastfriends.org, in the U.S., one in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime; breast cancer is the second leading cause of death among women (behind heart disease); only one in 1,000 men in a lifetime will get breast cancer; one woman will die of breast cancer every 13 minutes in the U.S., and every 19 seconds someone around the world will be diagnosed.
We can rejoice because deaths have been declining since 1990 because of better treatment, research and increased awareness; early detection, screenings and self-exams continue to be the best and most effective weapon in detecting and treating cancer, and 90 percent of women who catch cancer early are still alive after five years.
If you’re over 40, talk to your doctor about mammograms. Be proactive and persistent when you suspect something is wrong and don’t let anyone tell you it’s all in your head. Remember you know your body better than anyone else. Several organizations, the Susan G. Komen Foundation, the American Cancer Society, and others, offer free or reduced cost-mammograms so don’t skip yours because you can’t pay for one. Encourage all the women around you to do self-exams and to get their annual screenings for breast and other cancers. While you’re at it, make a donation to breast cancer research in honor or memory of someone you love or adored. Let’s join hands, hearts, and breasts to find a cure in our lifetime. Together we can.
Looking for inspiration, empowerment, uplift, straight talk, an encouraging word to brighten your day? You’ve arrived! Meet Dr. Cynthia Ann Bond Hopson, best-selling author, educator, inspirational speaker, sistergirl–she’s all that and more. All the way from Stanton, TN (you can’t get there from here) to 50 states, six continents and everything in between, she’s wise, witty and altogether wonderful. She enthusiastically invites you to slow down, sit a spell, and share a giggle or two.