As September winds down and the weather becomes cooler, leaves change colors, and fall grabs hold of Northwest Indiana. Many of us feel the cool breeze on our faces, enjoy the fresh smells of fall, and begin to feel revitalized. We pull out our decorations for Halloween and Thanksgiving while our local stores begin setting up for Christmas. Thoughts of family gatherings, being surrounded by our loved ones, kitchens filled with the aromas of oven roasted turkey and pumpkin pies become reality before long.
While many of us think of seasonal things to come, there are those who reminisce of loved ones lost to a disease that kills approximately 2400 men each year and kills 1 woman every 13 minutes.* This disease is a well known cancer that has become the most common cancer in women.* It is so common we have dedicated an entire month to draw awareness to prevention, research, charities, and treatments.
For many who have lost mothers, sisters, daughters, aunts, friends to this disease, October is a time of reflection and celebration of those who stood strong through the disease until the end, those who brought hope and filled others with their strength during their battle. October is a time to rejoice over the memories these brilliant lives left with us. October is a time for every woman and man to stand up against this disease, reach out, fight the good fight, and join hands with survivors and current warriors with breast cancer. Look, listen, and learn from survivors. Their experiences are inspiring to say the least.
There are many things we have control of that can make a difference in our lives or in the lives of our loved ones. Take action and become proactive in your own health maintenance. Know the breast cancer screening guidelines listed below, pulled right off of the American Cancer Society page: https://www.cancer.org/healthy/find-cancer-early/cancer-screening-guidelines/american-cancer-society-guidelines-for-the-early-detection-of-cancer.html
Women ages 40 to 44 should have the choice to start annual breast cancer screening with mammograms (x-rays of the breast) if they wish to do so.
Women age 45 to 54 should get mammograms every year.
Women 55 and older should switch to mammograms every 2 years, or can continue yearly screening.
Screening should continue as long as a woman is in good health and is expected to live 10 more years or longer.
All women should be familiar with the known benefits, limitations, and potential harms linked to breast cancer screening. Women and men should complete self breast exams regularly and know how their breasts feel and look. If they notice any changes, they should report those changes to their health care provider for further evaluation.
Breast cancer cannot be prevented but the risk can be lowered by responsibly changing risks factors we can control. If you smoke, work on quitting. Smoking is linked to a higher risk of breast cancer, especially in younger women. If you are overweight or obese and post-
menopausal, you are at a higher risk. Work on weight reduction and maintenance of a healthy weight through increased activity and a healthy balanced diet. Follow up with your healthcare providers and follow through with routine screenings. Stay informed and educate yourselves with new information regarding breast cancer prevention and trends. Remind your family and friends to do the same. Do all of this as well as offer support to October's Breast Cancer Awareness Month by donating to reputable breast cancer charities such as the Breast Cancer Prevention Partners or the Breast Cancer Research Foundation.
So, while we look forward to the change in weather and the celebrations to come, let us also look forward to hope and strength for the men and women who are living with breast cancer. Let us listen and learn from the men and women who have survived breast cancer. Let us reflect lovingly on the men and women who have succumbed to breast cancer. Finally, let us become actively involved this October in raising awareness of breast cancer and strive to change the future for those yet to be diagnosed with breast cancer.