In the article below, Vice President of Public Policy, Cheryl English, shares her personal breast cancer survivor story and insight on what we can all do to support the cause.
No one ever expects to hear the words, “You have cancer.” And with just those 3 words, your world is turned upside down. I was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2019, with no family history. I was made aware that 1-in-8 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in her lifetime and 85% of breast cancer diagnoses occur in women with no family history of breast cancer.
My cancer was detected from my annual mammogram and we caught it early. After my surgery, we found additional cancer cells that did not show up in previous scans. I had three surgeries and radiation treatments, and today I am cancer free! Breast cancer is an emotional and physical journey. I’ve met so many strong women through my journey. It made me realize how critical monthly self-exams and annual mammogram screenings are for successful treatment options. For all women at any age, conduct your monthly self-exams. And for women over 40 years old, get your annual mammogram screening and do not skip a year.
My annual mammogram screening saved my life!
How can others support Breast Cancer Awareness Month?
Encourage your family and loved ones to schedule their annual mammogram screening. For women over 40 in the Acuity healthcare program, an annual mammogram is covered free of charge as preventative care and may be covered at a younger age if you have family history or other factors. If you know someone who is afraid to go for her first screening, help educate her on the statistics and the importance of early detection. Breast cancer is one of the most treatable, and curable types of cancer, but only if it is detected early.
Raise the awareness by wearing pink to show that breast cancer can impact anyone, at any age. Family and caregivers are as much a part of the process as the patient herself.
Another way to be involved with Breast Cancer Awareness Month is to support organizations that provide financial support for those going through treatment. Consider doing a fundraiser for organizations such as the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation. Cancer treatment is extensive and can be a financial burden for many who do not have comprehensive insurance coverage. Local organizations such as The Cancer Foundation of Northeast Georgia (or similar organizations in your area), need your support to help provide transportation or financial aid for those in need of assistance during treatments.
How can one support a colleague or loved one who has recently been diagnosed with breast cancer?
Breast cancer is different for each individual and treatments are unique to each situation. Just be there for your colleague or loved one to listen to their concerns and provide encouragement. Maintaining a positive outlook is a critical factor during treatments. For me, having someone go with me to my treatments helped relieve my anxiety. Encourage those going through treatment to join a support group with individuals who have a similar situation. No one should travel this journey alone. Fatigue is common through treatments, so simple acts like preparing meals or running errands are always appreciated.
While researching information about treatments is helpful, much of the information on the web and social media may not apply to your loved one’s situation and can result in more anxiety. Encourage your loved one to talk openly with her medical team about any physical and emotional concerns.
Tell us your thoughts on the role that self-care and self-love play in the battle against breast cancer.
Life gets busy but taking time to ensure that you get rest, eat healthy, don’t smoke and stay active promotes both physical and emotional well-being. No one is immune to cancer, but we can take action to stay healthy and get annual screenings.