I'm going take to a break from my normally witty and humorous style to talk about something serious and really very personal. (This is normally the part where I would say something like, "farting." But for real. I'm being serious).
According to breastcancer.org, just under 12% of women in the U.S. will develop invasive breast cancer in their lifetime. Additionally, they say that, "in 2011, an estimated 230,480 new cases of invasive breast cancer were expected to be diagnosed in women in the U.S." Perhaps more surprising, "About 2,140 new cases of invasive breast cancer were expected to be diagnosed in men in 2011. A man’s lifetime risk of breast cancer is about 1 in 1,000."
I think that for the most part, we are all very aware of breast cancer. In fact, I would venture to guess that most people reading this post have known someone who has been diagnosed with breast cancer.
In 2002, my mother was diagnosed with stage four breast cancer. This is a picture taken of her about a month and a half after she was diagnosed. Wasn't she beautiful?
Yup. Was. My mom died in December of 2007 after a five and half year very courageous battle with breast cancer. And by courageous, I mean that when doctors told her that she should just go home and enjoy the last few months of her life in April 2002, she told them no. She lived to see graduations, weddings, and the birth of her first grandchild. Courage.
Anyway. All of this is just to say that this is a very hot topic for me.
Do you remember last year on facebook when many women were posting the color bra they were wearing as their status update, with a simple, "purple," or whatever color they had on? Did you know that that was done as an effort to raise awareness about breast cancer? And a fundamental part of that game was to "leave the men in the dark." Now, to be fair, I have a lot of friends that I love dearly who participated. The same friends also take breast cancer very seriously. But I take issue with the game. As one of my friends said recently, "The problem is that breast cancer is a horrible disease that kills people and changes people's lives forever - not a fun excuse for cutesy, annoying, pointless FB updates." Another problem I have with the game is that it leaves out half of the population. Half the population that loves and cares for women diagnosed with breast cancer every day. Half the population that is also at risk for this terrible illness. My biggest problem with this game? It makes no mention of breast cancer! Or the things you can do to prevent it!
Recently it came to my attention that one of these "games" is about to begin again. And I started to fume a little. But this time I decided to be a little more proactive.
My proposal is this: make a habit of checking yourself regularly by doing self breast exams. Make a habit to remind those you love to check themselves. Early detection is such an important part of this! According to the National Breast Cancer Foundation, 70% of all cancers are discovered through self detection, and with early detection the five year survival rate is 98%.
Are you like me and a little rusty on what a self exam entails? Check this out. Are you also like me and will undoubtedly forget to do self exams approximately one hour after reading this post? Okay then. I'm glad we're birds of a feather. How about I make a little reminder card for you that you can stick in your bathroom? Great! I even made it pretty and gag pink for you!
Too pink? How about this one?
Just right click on it, go to "Save Image As" and save it to your computer. Then for like 19 cents you can have it printed off at your favorite online digital photo store. Tape it up to your bathroom mirror and CHECK YOURSELF. Make it the background on your phone and CHECK YOURSELF. Put it on the visor in your car and CHECK YOURSELF. Tape it to the back of your children's clothing so as you chase them you see it and CHECK YOURSELF.
No? Is the photo method too many steps? Print the 4x6 pink one here. Print the 4x6 white one here.
No? You don't have any 4x6 paper handy to run through your printer? Okay, go here to get an 8x11 pink one that you can cut down. Go here for the 8x11 white one.
If the option you're going for doesn't work, let me know right away so I can fix it.
No more excuses. You have a lot of options. If I had the money for it, I would send a laminated copy of this with instructions on how to do the self exam on the back to anyone who asked for it. I don't have that kind of money. Please though, do your husband, boyfriend, girlfriend, wife, mother, father, sister, brother, cousin, great uncle, daughter, son, best friend, co-worker who takes your lunch, and me a favor. Check yourself.
Do me another favor. Share this link with your husband, boyfriend, girlfriend, wife, mother, father, sister, brother, cousin, great uncle, daughter, son, best friend, and co-worker who takes your lunch so that they can check themselves and share this with others who should do the same.
And check this out about other ways that you can lower your risk of breast cancer. And for an early detection plan, go here. Because really, if you're human you are at risk.
One more thing. Click here if you would like to visit a site where with one click of a button you can donate a free mammogram to someone.
Great. Glad we got that taken care of. Lets do something more fun next time. Like make ridiculous running sausage shirts!!
Edited to add: When I found out about the new facebook game, I quickly threw this post together. I didn't really take a lot of time to look around out there and see what has been said on this topic. Now that I've had a little more time, I have had a chance to do that, and found two posts that particularly struck me. This one is about a woman who has struggled with infertility, and her reaction to a fb game that centered around women pretending they were pregnant and craving various foods in an attempt to raise awareness about breast cancer. As I find more and get permission to link them up, I will.