Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Monday, October 30, 2017 - 12:45pm
Tami L. Johnson

Many of us may be familiar with someone we love who has experienced the difficult trial of breast cancer. That someone may even be yourself.  According to the National Cancer Institute, more than 252, 000 women in the United States will be diagnosed with breast cancer and some 40,000 will die of the disease in 2017.  These statistics are very disheartening.  Too many of our loved ones have passed away due to this type of cancer. 

From the American Association for Cancer Research Website we learn that, “Breast cancer is the most common type of non-skin cancer in women in the United States.”

 This accounts for 15 percent of all new cases.  Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death in the United States for American women while breast cancer comes in second.

Also, from the American Association for Cancer Research we are told that, “Being female and older in age are the main risk factors for breast cancer.  Other risk factors include estrogen (made in the body), dense breast tissue, age at menstruation, and first birth, taking hormones for symptoms of menopause, smoking, obesity, and not getting enough exercise.”

We also learn that hereditary breast cancer makes up for 5 percent to 10 percent of all breast cancer diagnosis. Less than 1 percent of men develop breast cancer each year. Radiation exposure and high levels of estrogen, plus a high risk of breast cancer in the family can all increase the risk of the disease for a man.

There are many incredible treatments available today versus years ago when it comes to cancer survival. Americans are far more likely to survive cancer than any other time in history thanks to all the advances in medicine.

The American Association for Cancer Research says, “Today 1 in 21 Americans is a cancer survivor.  Moreover, the percentage of the U.S. population living with, through or beyond cancer has more than tripled in the last 50 years.”

Breast cancer prevention starts with healthy habits. According to the Mayo Clinic in an article titled, “Breast Cancer Prevention: How to Reduce Your Risk” we are told you can do the following:

*Limit alcohol

The more alcohol you drink the greater your risk. Limit yourself to less than 1 drink per day.

*Don’t smoke

In premenopausal women, it is particularly a risk to them in conjunction with smoking.

*Control your weight

Being overweight increases your risk of breast cancer.  This is especially true for women who become obese later in life.

*Be physically active

Living a physically active lifestyle can help you maintain a healthy weight which can, in turn, reduce your risk of breast cancer.  The Department of Health and Human Services recommends at least 150 minutes a week or 2.5 hours of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous activity weekly.

*Breast Feed

Breast-feeding may play a role in breast cancer prevention.

*Limit dose and duration of hormone therapy

Combination of more than 3-5 years increases the risk of breast cancer.  Ask your doctor about other options.

*Avoid exposures to radiation and environmental pollution

More studies are needed but there may be a risk involved with breast cancer and radiation exposure. Only have such tests when necessary.

If you have a loved one going through breast cancer, you can comfort them by showing your support in many ways.  In particular, you can listen to them.  Offer kindness and ask to go with them to their treatments.  Join in the cancer walks/runs within your local city and show abundant love—they need that most.

I have a very dear friend, Katie Hadley Ballingham, who passed away from breast cancer, along with other forms of cancer.  I knew her all my life.  It was truly a joy to support her in the breast cancer walk in Salt Lake City in May 2012.  I am forever blessed for knowing her.  She was so courageous and had a deep conviction of the love towards her family. Love you Kates!