October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. On behalf of SunShine’s Natural and Loving It! we would like everyone to join us for the cause.
So I won’t use your time reiterating info that you can access on the links provided below. What I want to do is shed a little light on the need for open dialogue. I’m all for rocking your pink ribbons, and showing your support, but what about sharing some knowledge? How often do we take the necessary time to sit down and have a talk about cancer? There are many in our communities, heck in our own families that aren’t willing to open up about their health issues. With that being said I want to touch on a couple things.
According to WebMD.com the cause of breast cancer is not known, yet it’s the second leading cause of death in American women. And about 1% of breast cancer is diagnosed in men. African American men have higher rates of breast cancer than men of other races in the United States. The risk factors for breast cancer in men and women are similar. Many of the risk factors for women are related to their lifetime exposure to estrogen and other female reproductive hormones. Risk of breast cancer in men is also related to hormonal changes, including estrogen changes. Male breast cancer is associated with diseases or body conditions that increase estrogen exposure or that have effects similar to increased estrogen exposure. Therefore obese men have higher levels of estrogen in their bodies because fat cells produce estrogen from other hormones. Risk increases, from three to five times that of average weight men, have been reported for very obese men.
Age remains the biggest risk factor for breast cancer. In other words, most cases of breast cancer occur due to the fact that the risk of breast cancer increases with age. I cannot stress enough the importance of early detection, it can save thousands of lives. According to www.breastcancer.org states that in 2011, there were more than 2.6 million breast cancer survivors in the US. Confirming that early detection is key in prevention. Unfortunately we live in a society that sells youth to the aging, yet pushes our children to develop as quickly as possible. Many experts will argue that self exams should start at the age of 20 or so. I disagree with this, and I’ll tell you why. I was an early bloomer in some regards, yet really didn’t develop noticeable breasts until 14/15. I believe the moment a child hits puberty and is developing, teaching them how to perform a self exams would be ideal. Once they become young adults (18 and 20), it will be second nature for them to do these exams monthly. If you can drive a car, you should be able to perform a self breast exam. It’s all about self-awareness.
In talking about men and age, I can remember before I became a nurse I wasn’t aware that men could get breast cancer. No one talked about it. Nor was I encouraged to do self exams early on. Again, no one talked about it. But you don’t have to be a health professional to start a conversation with friends or family. It’s important for men and women alike to do their due diligence and to be surrounded by like minded individuals, who understand the importance of a healthy lifestyle. Step one, is to establish a good support system. Within that system indentify those that like to talk/do research, and from there start an open forum. These are a few topics that may be a beginning point for your group:
•ways to start and stay fit (healthy eating habits, exercise)
•what could put you at risk (smoking, lack of knowledge)
•learning about your family’s history (is cancer hereditary?)
•knowing where to find support (online, your physician, conferences)
•how to perform a monthly self exam (knowing what’s normal/abnormal)
Once you get that open forum going, you can ease into talking about more difficult topics. Such as coping with your diagnosis, sexuality and the survivor, children and cancer. Whether you know someone that has cancer or you don’t, we mustn’t avoid addressing things in hopes that it will go away.
The topics listed are good starting points that will assist you in having open dialogue. One of many ways to bring is awareness is by talking about it. If you have questions, don’t be afraid to ask.
Here’s to your health!
The links I have provided below will connect you with support/advocacy groups, the latest news/information, and organizations that may further assist you.
www.nbcam.org www.pinkforoctober.org www.hopkinsmedicine.org/avon_foundation_breast_center/ www.healthfinder.org
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