Hello, Warriors! Thank you for taking time out of your active schedule to visit The Breast Place blog. Welcome! We hope you’re feeling well and taking advantage of the wonderful fall weather gracing our lovely city. If this is your first visit to The Breast Place blog, we cover a range of topics here. From breast cancer management to anti-aging skin treatments to helpful tips for maximizing your overall health and wellness, The Breast Place is committed to sharing the best health practices and treatment options with you!
Our previous posts about male breast cancer and breast reconstruction surgery are available for your reading pleasure! Increasing awareness for male breast cancer, as well as identifying the differences in how male breast cancer presents in comparison to female breast cancer, is part of our attempt to catch cancer early. That’s what Breast Cancer Awareness Month is all about! Likewise, informing women of their reconstruction options post-mastectomy, as well as reminding women of the communities available for sharing their experiences, is part of our attempt to support survivors. If you’re interested in those efforts or know someone you might benefit from those articles, definitely give them a read!
Today, in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, we want to take a closer look at how this observance was formed, its history, and who this observance has helped. After a brief history lesson, stick around for a few interesting statistics and ways you can help support the numerous charities operating this October. As well, we’d like to remind you that Botox for Breasts is currently running a charitable promotion which The Breast Place is taking part in. For every unit of Botox, one dollar will be donated to help support breast cancer survivors! We hope to see you in the office soon!
Without further ado, let’s discover how Breast Cancer Awareness Month was created!
The History Behind Breast Cancer Awareness Month
National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, also known as NBCAM, is an observance recognized worldwide annually. Various charities band together every October to raise money for continued research and treatment development. While finding a cure for breast cancer is the ultimate goal, the month also serves to increase awareness for breast cancer, encourage preventative measures, and increase the number of early diagnosis. The awareness part of Breast Cancer Awareness Month promotes self-breast exams and breast imaging, which increases men and women’s likelihood of being diagnosed in the early stages of the disease. This, in turn, can save lives.
Founded in 1985, National Breast Cancer Awareness Month is a relatively new addition to the list of national observances. Developed by the American Cancer Society and the pharmaceutical division of what is now AstraZeneca, both institutions sought to make mammograms a staple in the fight against breast cancer.
Where does the pink ribbon come in? The pink ribbon which is commonly associated with Breast Cancer Awareness Month actually wasn’t introduced until later. First, in 1991, the Susan G. Komen Foundation, currently the largest breast cancer organization in the United States, passed out pink ribbons at a race for breast cancer survivors in New York City. Then, in 1993, the Senior Corporate Vice President of Estée Lauder, Evelyn Lauder, founded the Breast Cancer Research Foundation. The pink ribbon began as a symbol for this specific institution. As National Breast Cancer Awareness Month gained popularity and notoriety, the pink ribbon became a symbol for the movement and has been used by companies to show support for breast cancer charities. It is also used to celebrate survivors and remember those who have been lost to breast cancer.
Every year, National Breast Cancer Awareness Month is celebrated in a host of ways. In 2010, Delta Air Lines painted a Boeing 767-432ER with the pink ribbon. In 2017, the White House was lit pink in honor of the observance. Similarly, in 2011, 10 Downing Street (where the British Prime Minister lives and works) was illuminated pink. The National Football League in the United States outfit their field with pink lines, while comic strip artists use pink for one day of the month. These pink promotions bring further awareness to the month and remind people to volunteer!
In the later part of this article, we’ll name a few ways you can give to charity in October to support National Breast Cancer Awareness Month!
The Statistics Concerning Breast Cancer Awareness Month
The purpose of Breast Cancer Awareness Month being to educate people about early detection and promote breast health, has the observance actually had any impact on breast cancer survival? We’re happy to be able to say… Yes, it has! The rate of death among breast cancer patients has been steadily declining since 1990, in part because of increased awareness, increased screening, and better treatment options. While breast cancer is still the most common cancer diagnosed in women (after skin cancer), 63% of cases are diagnosed in the localized stage. And, because the cancer has not spread, the five-year survival rate is 99%. That’s amazing! The rate of death from breast cancer among women fifty and over has declined at an even more rapid rate than for those under fifty. We hope this trend continues!
A study into the effect of Breast Cancer Awareness Month in a private hospital yielded interesting results! The study was split into two groups: women who sought screening between the months of February and September and those who sought screenings in the month of October. These two groups were referred to as the non-BCAM group and BCAM group, respectively. The non-BCAM group, with 69 women, was half the size of the BCAM group, with 129 women. The study concluded public awareness campaigns do lead to an increased rate of screening. However, they also pointed out, with routine screening programs becoming more widespread, this may not make much of a difference in the rate of diagnosis. Which is really the goal of Breast Cancer Awareness Month!
Ways You Can Support Breast Cancer Awareness Month
There are so many wonderful ways you can support Breast Cancer Awareness in the month of October. (Although, there’s no rule that says you can't do it all year!) Most people associate the month with charity walks and runs. These races rely on donations to raise funds for research and the development of improved breast cancer treatments. If you’re physically and financially able, you may be able to contribute your time or money to these events! Or, if you prefer to just give money, there are dozens of charities who will use your dollars to fund necessary initiatives. If you aren’t physically or financially able to donate your time or money, no worries! There are other ways for you to support Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
First: wear pink! It’s all about awareness in October and you increase awareness by wearing clothes associated with breast cancer. Read up on breast cancer. Equip yourself with information. Breast cancer is the most common form of cancer for women. Every 2 minutes, a female is diagnosed with breast cancer. Drinking alcohol increases the risk of breast cancer. Only 5-10% of people diagnosed with breast cancer have a family history. Speak with your friends about regular screenings. Demystify the act of going to the doctor, performing a self-exam, and having a mammogram for those you love.
You can also volunteer with the American Cancer Society (ACS) or another program to help increase breast cancer awareness in your local community. If you know someone with cancer, help make their lives a bit easier by organizing meal deliveries or rides to appointments. Be sure to ask first! Listen to the experiences of breast cancer survivors and those who have lost someone to breast cancer with an open mind and a kind heart.
Breast Cancer Awareness Month is an opportunity for everyone to come together, as a community, and uplift those who are currently struggling or have struggled with breast cancer. As we fight towards a cure, there’s things we can do to help others stay healthy and live long lives. We hope you’ll do your part this October for National Breast Cancer Awareness Month!
Of course, The Breast Place is committed to increased breast cancer awareness. That’s why we offer free consultations with our highly trained staff and advanced breast imaging services. We also offer family history and genetic testing services through AmbryCARE, for those who have a history of breast cancer in their family and believe that may be predisposed to genetic mutations. Our kind staff are here to help walk you through every step of the way. Give us a call or fill out one of the contact forms scattered around our website and we’ll be in touch! Thank you for reading and we hope you’ll return for our future articles!
Hello, Warriors! How are you doing today? We here at The Breast Place hope you’re enjoying the long days of constant sunshine midsummer has to offer. Whether you’re at the beach with your family or basking in your backyard, remember to slather on a thick layer of your favorite sunscreen!
Today, our aim is to impress upon each of our readers the importance of teaching your daughters how to perform a breast self-exam and how you might go about having such a conversation. We understand these sorts of things can be tricky. It’s our professional opinion: preparation is the pangea to anxiety in situations such as this one. Equipped with knowledge, you can answer any questions your daughter might have about why breast self-exams are necessary and how to perform one herself. This exchange doesn’t have to be awkward. In fact, we hope with the information in this article, both you and your daughter will walk away from the conversation feeling confident and empowered.
On the Importance of Self-Examination
A breast self-exam (BSE) is, as the name suggests, a self-performed examination of one’s own chest area. The area underneath one’s armpits is also included in a self examination.
The chief benefit of self-exams are their potential to alert women to the presence of lumps and masses in their breasts which might be cancerous. Forty percent of diagnosed breast cancer cases are first detected by women who felt a lump. Early awareness is a key factor in determining survival rates in cases involving non-metastatic invasive breast cancer. Sixty-three percent of women are diagnosed while the cancer is still contained within the breast and of these women, the five-year survival rate is ninety-nine percent. However, young women—ages 15 to 39—are less likely to be diagnosed within this early stage because regular breast cancer screenings don’t begin until age forty for most.
The chance of women under forty developing breast cancer is only five percent. However minimal this risk factor may seem, it is still a risk. Therefore, teaching your daughters how to perform self-exams is vital.
Knowing One’s Own Body
The secondary benefit of performing regular self-exams might be the more universal of the two. We all need to have at least a basic understanding of our bodies. Performing regular breast self-exams can help your daughter to become familiar with her own physicality. Doctors recommend young women conduct self-exams less for the chance they’ll find a cancerous mass and more to have a solid understanding of what’s “normal” for them. Only by having a baseline of what your breasts look and feel like can young people identify when something has changed.
Now, you’re ready to have “the talk.” You don’t necessarily have to plan out what you’re going to say. In fact, it’s better if you don’t! You don’t want anything to sound too scripted. This is a natural topic of conversation between you and your daughter. Therefore, it’s always better to keep things casual.
When and Where
As with any in-depth conversation, you want to choose your moment. On a broader scale, this comes down to when—in your daughter’s timeline of development—you choose to have this conversation. While some doctors don’t recommend starting breast exams until you’re at least twenty and fully developed, others recommend beginning self-exams as soon as puberty. In this aspect, you must gauge the maturity of your child. Will they participate in this sort of conversation or plug their ears and run away? If it’s the latter, you might want to wait until they’re a bit more mature to have this conversation.
On a smaller scale, when to have this conversation depends on external factors. Environment. Time-of-day. Even whether or not your child has eaten. For the optimal retention of information, you’ll want to choose a day when your child is well-rested. Choose a private location for this conversation, as well. Though there’s nothing to be embarrassed about, no one wants an audience when they're talking about intimate parts of their bodies.
Do Your Research
Knowledge is your friend. Don’t go into the conversation unprepared. Chances are, your daughter will have questions about things. If you’re confused about certain aspects of the self-exam, you’ll only transfer your confusion onto her. Make sure you’re able to answer the most common questions.
How often should I be performing a self-exam? Once a month.
When should I perform the exam? At least a week after your last period. This allows any swelling of the breasts to lessen before the exam.
Where should I perform an exam? Self-exams can be performed standing up or lying down. They’ll want to add in the assistance of a mirror (when standing) in order to visually inspect the breasts. Doctors no longer recommend performing self-exams in the shower.
What should I be looking for? You’re looking for any lumps, bumps, hard masses, dimpling, discoloration, changes in texture, or discharge.
What’s normal? Everyone’s body is different. Therefore, there is no basic definition for normal. You’ll have to develop your own definition after multiple self-exams. Uneven breasts aren’t necessarily an indication of something being wrong. Likewise, stretchmarks (lighter or darker toned striations where the skin has stretched) are no cause for concern. What you want to keep an eye out for is major differences between the breasts (i.e. deformations or dimpling) and other sudden changes in the feel and appearance of your breasts.
How do I perform a self-exam?
This part of the conversation depends on your level of comfortability. You can either verbally explain what to do or physically demonstrate using hand motions or combine a mixture of both methods. You can also print out a self-exam guide on the National Breast Cancer organization website.
Stand in front of a mirror. With your arms by your side, visually assess your chest area. You’re looking for noticeable changes in contour, dimpling, discoloration or strange texture. Next, raise your arms above your head. Continue your visual examination. Next, place your arms on your hips and press to flex your pectoral muscles. Continue your visual examination, searching for major differences in the usual appearance of your breasts.
Lying Down Self-Exam
Lie down with a pillow placed under the shoulder of the breast you’re examining. Lift the arm on the side of the breast you’re examining until your bicep is beside your ear. Use the three middle fingers of your opposite hand (i.e. ring, middle, index) to make a flat surface. Using the flat surface of the pads of your fingers, palpate the entire breast area, including the armpit. You can use varying degrees of pressure. You can use an up-down motion, make circles, or radiate your palpitation outward from the nipple. Finally, squeeze each nipple to check for blood or discharge.
After the Talk
What happens after the talk is just as important as the actual conversation. At this point, your child will go off to process the information and perform a self-examination alone. Especially in the beginning, self-examinations can be the catalyst of worry. This next section will help you handle the emotions which might come up as a result of a self-exam.
Self-exams shouldn’t be a source of anxiety. In fact, they’re a wonderful tool for assuaging anxiety. Self-exams cannot rule out the possibility of having breast cancer. To rule out any foreign masses, you or your child would need to have a mammogram performed by a doctor. However, self-exams give us a small amount of power in the knowledge they imbue. With an understanding of our own body and what’s “normal” for us, we’re equipped to notice when something goes awry.
And, even when something does go awry, it’s not always a reason to panic. Eight out of ten lumps are not cancerous. They can be cysts or benign tumors or even just particularly dense sections of breast tissue.
Self-exams take five to ten minutes and only need to be completed once a month. As women, we have a responsibility to ourselves to check in with our own bodies. This is how we manage our health. Fear is most often born out of a lack of knowledge. With regular self-exams, we’re collecting knowledge about ourselves and managing our fear.
Assuage and Anticipate
Even equipped with the proper knowledge and relevant statistics, self-exams can bring up a lot of guessing and wondering. In the weeks or months following your conversation, check-in with your daughter. Of course, gauge her willingness to continue the conversation first. You might ask her how she’s feeling about her self-exams. Does she have any questions? Even if you’re not able to answer her questions and concerns, you can both take a trip to the doctor’s office and learn about breast health together.
Discussing your daughter’s health care concerns doesn’t have to be done alone. Consulting with a healthcare professional can help assuage any fears which might arise after beginning self-exams. That’s why The Breast Place offers consultations concerning breast pain, breast lumps or masses, abcesses and nipple discharge. Our physicians can show you and your daughter how to properly perform a self-exam and run family history risk assessments to see if you’re genetically predisposed to certain forms of breast cancer.
If you or your daughter do encounter a lump, don’t panic. Instead, schedule an appointment as soon as you’re able. The Breast Place offers several breast imaging services, including: mammograms, ultrasounds, and MRIs. Whether you have dense breast tissue or have had an abnormal mammogram, we can assist you in deciding what the next step in your healthcare journey should be and facilitate the necessary care. We’re here to help!
Every day is breast cancer awareness month, but October is when we all turn pink. During this month, we celebrate those who have fought, those who have lost, and those who stand beside us. One day at a time, we are trying to save as many lives as possible!
Hello, warriors! As you know, October has dawned and brought in Breast Cancer Awareness month. We know this is a daily fight and battle for you and your loved ones, but October brings your reality into the light of the rest of the world. You finally get the attention you deserve, and you really get to share the truth about breast cancer and how truly devastating it is right in front of the eyes of the public. We wish breast cancer, the need for a cure, and the battle you all fight could get this kind of attention every day and every month. Since we only have one month, we are going to make the most of it. It's time to educate, spread the world, and share your truth. Remember that we see you, we support you, we hear you, and we will be here for you every step of your battle!
According to the Susan G. Komen foundation, every two minutes a woman is diagnosed with breast cancer, 115 lives are lost to metastatic breast cancer every day, and 2 in 8 women in the United States will be diagnosed with breast cancer in her lifetime. What's even more shocking than those numbers is the fact that each of these statistics is still a surprise to millions of people every day. It's still a shock that it is more common to be diagnosed with cancer before you turn 40 than most people realize, and it is still possible to be diagnosed with cancer during your pregnancy. While these are all topics we have touched on many times in our blogs, across our social media, and as much as we possibly can in our offices, it's still not enough. That is why we must continue to raise awareness every day.
This is the perfect time to use your voice and your story to educate others in realizing their chances of getting breast cancer and what signs they need to be looking for. Use your survivorship to spread the word about early education and to promote self-breast exams from a young age. While this is a battle that you wage every day, when October rolls around, it's time to turn that fight in a new direction. The world needs to hear your stories and your truth, and you deserve to be heard. October goes beyond wearing pink. We are finally getting the opportunity to fight publicly and with the public's attention. To all of our warriors, we are so sorry that you don't get this kind of support and attention every day, and every month, you deserve it. Your fight and the struggles your family goes through every day deserves to be more than a trending hashtag for 31 days that casually gets overlooked by Halloween. Let us join together to change this and continue to spread information out into the world together, and to finally cure this horrible and devastating disease!
While we are standing strong together spreading awareness and teaching about the importance of early detection, what else can we do this month and beyond to make the most out of breast cancer awareness month, outside of wearing our pink tags? Obviously, because of the current pandemic, this year might look a little different. We might not be able to gather like we have been used to. We might not be able to cheer each other on or walk for our loved ones in person or in big crowds, but that doesn't mean you can't make the most of this month and still support the future of the breast cancer cure. We have been doing our research and listening to all of you on how we can continue to support one another. One of the first resources we stumbled upon was Breast Cancer Now. This incredible foundation, set in the UK, will give you an incredible outside look at what the world is doing to help all of us achieve our common goal of curing breast cancer. They have an incredible social media presence and an incredible website. In years past, we might not have been able to attend some of their events, but the silver lining is that thanks to the wonders of the internet and needing to stay home for our safety - we can join together and be a stronger community than ever before. Make sure to visit their website by following the link below!
They also have two very important and inspiring ways of getting involved in your community that were so inspiring to us that we had to share. These fantastic ideas are all things that you can do right now here in the US and that will both be a wonderful addition to our fight this month and beyond. These events are all inspired by their "press play" platform, and we just think it's outstanding. So let's sit back and press play together!
Have you been feeling like you're not giving back enough, doing enough, or that you haven't found the right voice of action for your personal path? That's okay! This month we are going to continue to share more ideas on how all of our warriors and their loved ones can give back, keep fighting, and how to bring awareness into everyday life - and not just in October! Be well out there, we know that you're fighting hard. You are not alone in this, and you never will be!
Early detection is extremely important. During your self-breast exams, you might find a lump or mass that may or may not be cancer. Here are a few things to keep in mind.
Hello warriors! We hope this blog finds you happy and well. We've talked about the importance of early detection in almost every blog, eblast, and social media post we've ever made. We can't stress enough just how important they are. With our last few blogs discussing the realities of breast cancer appearing in younger generations more often than many people realize, self-exams continue to become more and more important. When you're young, your breast tissue is denser and harder to penetrate and locate anything out of the ordinary in a mammogram. This makes your self-exams so important. You know when something doesn't feel right on your body or has seemed to appear overnight, and you will know and notice better than anyone else. Bringing these changes to your doctor's attention is crucial, but sometimes these aren't always lumps that are connected to cancer. It is so easy to get wrapped up and scared, constantly asking yourself "is this cancer, or is this something else?". This is why it is so important to understand what the different lumps and masses are that could appear inside and around your breast.
First of all, you need to know a little bit more about the breast tissue and the breast itself. The breast tissue is made up of adipose (fat) tissue, lobules, and ducts. There is a chain of lymph nodes known as the intramammary lymph nodes that run within the breast tissue as well. There are many benign masses like cysts, fibroadenomas, abscesses, and fat necrosis that occurs in the breast. Some should be removed by a breast surgeon and some are fine to let be as long as they don't grow or become painful - always make that decision with a trained surgeon. The density of your breast tissue can also affect how these lumps are to be felt or palpitated. As you age, your breast tissue becomes replaced with fatty tissue that is not as dense, making visualizing these abnormalities on mammograms easier. Some benign masses can increase your risk for breast cancer so even though they are benign, it;s important to notify your provider of any changes. When in doubt, get it checked out!
[Breast cancer lumps]
Let's start with the more dangerous lumps and bumps on this list before we talk about the more benign things you might be feeling. According to Stony Brook Cancer Center, most of the breast lumps you'll be feeling will be benign, won't be cancerous, and most won't have to be removed. If they are, this won't affect the breast's natural function.
The early signs of breast cancer are different for every woman. According to the Susan G. Komen foundation, the most common warning signs of cancer in its earliest stages are nipple discharge, a change in how your nipple looks or feels, or a change in how your breast looks or feels. If you have these symptoms, please notify your doctor.
Breasts themselves have a lumpy texture. Not every unique lump that you feel is a tumor or lump that needs attention, but a part of your natural breast makeup. The lumps that should catch your attention are those that feel different from the rest of your breast tissue, ones that feel hard, and ones that have suddenly appeared.
According to Stony Brook Cancer Center, these lumps or thickenings will appear most often in the top part of the outer breast and into the armpit. The tissue is thicker there than anywhere else on your breast. According to VeryWellHealth, some other warning signs include these hard bumps not moving during your self-examination and that your breast might feel like it has a very pebbly surface. There are a few precancerous lumps that also need strict attention and should be removed right away.
[Benign lumps and masses]
There are many different types of benign masses that you might come across in your lifetime. As we've mentioned, many of them are not dangerous and you might not have to have them removed at all. You should still be aware of what you're feeling.
Knowing your breasts and the lumps and bumps inside them are very important. Being educated on what you're feeling can calm your fears and worries, and help you to action rather than panic. If you have any questions or concerns, never hesitate to reach out. We would rather look and find something benign than being kept in the dark about something serious.
Did you know we will donate $1 for every unit of Botox administered to breast cancer patients and research? We are partnering with various organizations such as the American Cancer Society, Hope Lodge and *soon* Share Our Suzy Lowcountry to give back to the breast cancer community. Be well out there, we know that you're fighting hard. You are not alone in this, and you never will be!
Breast cancer and its treatments leave behind scars of many kinds. Healing from your physical and emotional scars are a part of your healing process. Both need to be looked after with equal amounts of care.
Hello dear friends. We hope where ever you are while reading this, you know you are not alone. Where ever you are on your journey, you are strong enough to fight. In this blog, we will be talking about scars. Not necessarily the scars that are left behind from radiation, chemo, and surgery. We will be talking about the emotional scars that come along with fighting this battle. These scars need to be cared for and healed just as much as your physical scars do. This process can take time, but we promise it's worth it. Not dealing with these scars can make the journey into returning to the life you want difficult or even impossible. A scar is something a warrior should be proud of. You went through the fight, and you won. You are now more aware, realistic, stronger, and wiser.
Your cancer treatments will affect your body physically, but it goes way beyond that. It can affect how you feel, think, and like to do things in your life. Treatment can even change the way your brain works. Yes, chemo brain is a real thing! You could be facing mental changes in how you learn, how well you concentrate, and how well you remember. There is nothing wrong with you, these are common effects for many people going through treatment. Also, how your treatments will affect you mentally and physically is unique to each person. It is important to be informed and educated about what is happening to your body before, during, and after your treatment. Discussing and researching how you can help yourself stay as healthy mentally and physically as possible is also key to this process.
Long term and short term effects of treatment can affect your mental health. Depression, anxiety, and fear can develop during treatment. After treatment a lot of this fear is based on the worry and possibility that your cancer could return. Anxiety can bloom out of the initial shock of taking in all of the information you're given at the beginning of your journey. This can make it very difficult to cope or comprehend what is going on.
While going through and working on your emotional healing, keeping an open line of communication is very important. Make sure to talk about how you're feeling. Express it, work through your emotions, and try to continue past them. Working through these emotions can help you move towards a more positive attitude, and to help you cope with life in general. Make sure to be open with your care team, a medical professional, or a trusted loved one. Holding in these emotions and feelings can be very hurtful. Feeling angry can get in the way of taking care of yourself. Sometimes, it can energize you. Use these emotions for a positive outcome, don't stew inside of them. Prioritize your mental health. You are allowed to feel how you do. They are valid emotions and you are worthy to feel this way. Allow yourself to grieve, but don't let it last forever.
Your body could be facing many different kinds of changes, too. Some may only last for a little while, while others could stay forever. Even if you don't show these changes, you could still see them. Anger and grief are natural reactions to this situation. It can affect your sex drive. It might make you feel that your appearance has changed how your loved ones look at you, respond to you, and will act around you. These natural reactions can also cause depression, anxiety, and fear.
Things That Can Help:
After treatment, it might be strange that you aren't always in panic mode. You're so used to that feeling, that it can be mentally jarring to start going back to some sense of normalcy. But that normalcy can place a lot of burden on you as well. Getting back to your sense of normal can take time. Even with the victory and empowerment that you've successfully beaten cancer. It might take time to feel like you can go back to your life again. Your normal may not be the same again, and it's difficult to adjust to that. Remember, your breasts are not who you are nor do they represent who you are.
Healing doesn't just happen overnight and then you're better. It has many stages and steps along the way. Take the time to do what you need. We are here for you along every step of the way and are always here to talk when you need us. Never hesitate to reach out. Continue to fight, be proud of the journey you're on, and be well.
Early detection is one of the most important life-saving factors when wanting to prevent and fight breast cancer. If you can start on the journey early in your life, it might save and protect that life you've built and created.
We've made it to May, friends! We are so thankful to be here with you today and thankful that there is a little more positive news in the world these days. There is still so much that we need to be cautious about, but as breast cancer warriors, that is not a new idea. We've shared some important facts on the realities of what it's like to live with breast cancer while raising children, personal stories of those fighting breast cancer, and how to better your quality of life while living through diagnosis and treatment. One topic that we are extremely passionate about is early detection. We spend a lot of time educating on the topic, spreading awareness on how to begin early detection, and helping those who could benefit from early detection. In this blog, we wanted to share some of the realities of why early detection is so important, tips on what you should be looking out for, some tips on how to stay as healthy as possible, and what early detection could mean for you.
We know that breast cancer is the second most diagnosed cancer in women and one of the most fatal. At the end of the day, catching it as soon as possible is key. As of now, there isn't a cure for breast cancer, making early detection more important every day. The purpose of early detection is to find and identify any breast abnormalities as soon as possible. If breast cancer or it's beginning stages are found and caught sooner, it can be treated more efficiently. There are more treatment options available to you and there is a higher rate of survival if caught sooner.
We've talked about the reality that breast cancer can appear in women under the age of 40 in some of our most recent blogs. It does happen more often than the general public cares to admit. Mammograms are not efficient enough for women under the age of 40, as the breast tissue is still to firm for the mammogram to penetrate through and provide a clear reading of what's happening inside the breast itself. This is when self-breast examinations come into play and become incredibly important. By the time you've reached early adulthood, you should be doing a monthly breast exam, regardless of your family's history of breast cancer. It never hurts to be safe. Self-breast examinations are the best tool for discovering early stages and signs of breast cancer, and any findings should always be reported to your doctor.
Breast cancer is a risk for everyone. The path you take will just be a little different depending on who you are, what your body has decided to do, and what your family history is. But know that no one is alone on this path. You might need to deal with these realities a little sooner than later, it might become a part of your medical appoints and gynecologist visits every year, but it will keep you healthier longer. Be kind to your body and follow the necessary steps to preserve your life. Stay strong, Lowcountry! We are in this fight and all the fight the world has currently given us, together. Today is another day that we have to live to the fullest.
Taking the confusion out and adding the zinc to your sunscreen...
We have all been told at least once the miracle ingredient we need to add to our skin care regimen… SUNSCREEN! SUNSCREEN! SUNSCREEN!
I, like many of us from my “era”, worshiped the sun as a teenager. I cringe when I think about life-guarding 10 hour shifts covered in baby oil; and how every spring break and summer started with a 3rd degree burn. If the SPF in my tropical tanning oil was higher than a 4, and didn’t smell like Hawaii, it wasn’t going in my pool bag.
Turning 40 exposed all those years of abusing my skin with emerging hyper-pigmentation, dark spots, and broken capillaries. Now, the one item that I won't leave the house without is a BROAD SPECTRUM sunscreen with Zinc. Zinc sits on the top of the skin and starts protecting you immediately when applied. Broad spectrum SPF refers to sunscreens that protect the skin from both UVA and UVB rays. Even with a high SPF (sun protection factor), if a sunscreen isn’t broad spectrum, you won’t be protected from UVA rays. It’s important to protect from both types of UV rays because they damage your skin differently. Here is a short breakdown:
work! If these reasons don’t persuade you, let the coral reefs be a reason to use an environmentally safe zinc based sunscreen. Chemically based sunscreens break down coral, causing it to lose its nutrients, turn ghostly white or bleach and often die or become unable to reproduce.
Now, you probably envision zinc sunscreen from the eighties… the white gooey stuff more suitable for the circus… well, here’s a welcome update! My all time favorite , ELTA MD sunscreens, are mixed with 9% transparent zinc oxide.
You don't have to worry about a clown like or chalky finish, and it's water-resistant up to 80 minutes, passing the test of beach waves and summer runs. The Elta MD UV Clear Broad Spectrum SPF 46 is a fantastic option for your face—particularly if you have oily skin, as the infusion of lactic acid simultaneously kills lingering breakouts, while reducing shine. The formula is also rich in hyaluronic acid, so you won't have to pile on the moisturizer beforehand, and the side of niacinamide can help to fade existing sun damage. The tinted version is like magic, it seamlessly blends into almost anyone’s skin, acting either as a light foundation or the perfect primer!
As far as the rest of your body goes, Elta MD has a full line of products, including a Sport Sunscreen, to protect you and your family...all containing zinc! On a side note, for those of us who began protecting ourselves a little later in life, there is an option to help reverse some of that hyper-pigmentation and those broken capillaries from our previous sun goddess days. My newest treatment obsession, Laser Genesis, uses micro-pulses of laser energy to diminish the signs of vascular facial redness and stubborn brown spots. Added bonus…Laser Genesis also improves the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles with collagen remodeling! The Breast Place is excited to offer packages of this no down time laser treatment, as well as many other skin rejuvenation packages personalized for your individual needs at your free skin consultation. Call me anytime at The Breast Place, extension 203!
Now more than ever, keeping your immune system strong is a necessity. For a breast cancer patient and during your treatments, this can be a very difficult task. How does breast cancer attack your immune system, how do treatments keep it weak, and what can you do to improve its strength and your quality of life?
Having cancer gives your life, and the lives you affect, a very unknown and sometimes scary feeling about what could or couldn't happen almost every day. Cancer treatments are changing every day, how your body responds to your treatments changes every day, and how you feel changes every day. The world today is starting to fill up with daily unknowns, uncertainties, and fear. What can happen, what could happen, and what is already happening is frightening. It is especially very frightening for people with compromised immune systems. Who has some of the most compromised immune systems? You do, my dear friend, as I am sure you have already been told many times before. Your body is already working against you as your cancer sets in, and then your immune system is completely compromised once you begin treatments. How unfair is that? In your daily battle, that is one of the most heartbreaking things we see every day.
But where is the science behind all of it? Cancer cells can sneak past your immune system and the white blood cells used to attack invaders in our bodies because they can look so similar to our normal healthy cells. It's almost like a game of hide and seek inside your body. Some cancer cells can even turn off part of your immune system once they attack, allowing the cancer cells to grow and multiply without being stopped. Cancer can also weaken your immune system if it travels and makes its way inside of your bone marrow. Inside your bone marrow is where your white blood cells are produced and cancer can shut down that production stripping your immune system of its power. But it's not just the disease itself that can lead to your immune system becoming weak, so can your treatments. These life-saving treatments that are needed to destroy the cancer cells can leave your body's immune system weak and not ready to fight. But they are still so important when it comes to saving your life.
Chemotherapy is the leading cause of damage to your immune system, but radiation and surgery can harm it as well. Chemotherapy is designed to kill rapid growth cells, which cancer is. But other rapidly growing cells are found in the most delicate parts of our body like in your bone marrow, blood, hair, and others. This will hurt the production of white blood cells, making your body more vulnerable to infection, sickness, and other issues.
During your cancer treatments and in the state of the world now, keeping your immune system as healthy as possible needs to become one of your top priorities. With that in mind, what can you do to keep yourself healthy and happy, while building up your immune system to whatever dangers are lurking out there? Follow these tips and suggestions to help you in your continued battle day in and day out!
You are fighting a battle inside your body and waging a war on the outside to keep yourself healthy and strong. Now more than ever it is so important to focus on keeping your immune system strong and to be as mindful as possible. It might be hard to not visit or see some of your family or friends to keep yourself healthy, avoiding public gatherings, and avoiding doing things you love doing. But, making these decisions could save your life and keep you healthy. Think smart and stay healthy, it will all be worth the trouble you are going through in the end.
It's so easy to get sucked into our cellphones. These handy and incredible objects that can connect us to the world and give us so much information in mere seconds can offer comfort, connection, fun, and a way to express ourselves. But does this stay true during your diagnosis, treatment, and afterward? Is there such a thing as too much screen time?
The unknown during diagnosis, treatment, and after can be one of the most painful parts of your journey. Finding the right kind of support and spending your time as you wish during your journey can be a battle in itself. Panic, fear, and doubt are a part of your everyday life, on top of trying to live your life as normally as you possibly can. Eliminating the negative things and people in your life during this time can be a very difficult decision to make. It can add another layer of worry and doubt to your life while trying to live and heal according to the societal norms around you. But what good are those negative people are things doing for you? Giving you extra stress, worry, hurting you, and possibly even making you angry? Why would you want someone like that in your life? The same thing applies to the cellphone that has casually become a permanent staple in your hand, back pocket, or bag.
We spend hours of our day scrolling mindlessly through our Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter accounts or on news sites, playing games, or surfing the web. We love posting about our families, the exciting things we're doing, looking up recipes, shopping on Amazon, and keeping up to date on the news. When going through treatment and afterward, social media and our connection to it can be a great form of comfort, reassurance, and an extension of learning more about what's happening in your body. There are so many inspiring Facebook pages and groups waiting to welcome you in with open arms, Instagram accounts that will keep you inspired, and brilliant websites to read and podcasts to listen to that will educate and comfort you on this journey. But what about everything else in between? How much time should you be spending on your phone, and when does it become a little too much? Is too much screen time a good thing or a band thing during your road to recovery or through treatment? This is an emerging topic that might cause a dispute or two. As you consider your path and choice of time spent on your phone, here are some things to consider and think about.
You may be following others on social media platforms that are going through a journey similar to yours. But, some of these people make it look easy, that it's not a huge challenge, and their pictures are inspiring or beautiful while doing it. Remember, what you post online is under your control. Filters are there to make everything look exactly how you want it to. You can control every aspect of your pictures and leave the imperfection and ugly behind. The days you get bad news, feel sick, don't look or feel like yourself, the messy house, the distraught or frustrated family members, might be left out of their posts. Even if they don't show these things, it's all still there, just like you. Seeing these cultivated and perfectly inspired posts over and over again can either keep you inspired or weigh heavily on you. Thoughts of doubt, comparison, and low self-esteem can become a daily part of your experience with social media. These posts can make you question why your life and journey doesn't look as easy or as inspiring as others, and make you question why it's not like that for you.
When comparison starts getting in the way, we suggest that it's time to put your phone down. Granted, these posts, these blogs, Facebook groups, and anywhere you can find a connection are there to serve a wonderful purpose. But when that purpose no longer applies to you or when it's making your journey more difficult or upsetting in any way, it might be time to reevaluate why this amount of screen time and what you're doing on your phone is important.
As in any decision you make while on your journey, make it for you. If you enjoy spending time on your phone, spend time on your phone! These are your decisions to make, so make them proudly. As you live through your diagnosis, treatment, and beyond, give yourself the joy and happiness you deserve in the best ways you can. We are here to give you the support you need, answer the questions you have, and guide you on the journey you want. Say yes to what to want, and allow yourself to say no to the things that are getting in the way of your life.
Becoming a mother is an exciting and wonderful journey. But what happens when that journey is disrupted with the diagnosis of breast cancer? What then? What are the best ways to handle motherhood and your breast cancer battle at the same time?
Being a mother is such an exciting, difficult, challenging, and wonderful thing. We thank our mothers for the love and care they've given us, and we strive to be the best mothers we can be for our children. But when a diagnosis of breast cancer steps into your life as a mother, what then? Naturally, the first thought will be of your children. How will I care for them? How will life go on for us as a family through my diagnosis and care? What happens when I can't care for them? What happens if I don't win this battle? In this two-part blog, we will be discussing what to do and how to handle parenthood while going through both your diagnosis and treatment. In the second post, we will be discussing and sharing some of the best resources out there for you to help through this journey.
At first, there might not feel like there are a ton of resources out there for you. As we discussed in our November blog, it's is still rare to be a young woman with a young family and be diagnosed with cancer. But, it still happens more than most realize. As a mother in this situation, you will be dealing with the same amount of day to day struggles and responsibilities, but it will get even harder when that diagnosis comes. You will now be facing treatment, care, long hospital stays, surgeries, and not feeling like yourself or very good at all while still dealing with your normal load of life. It is almost like your life has been split into two, and you have to live through both of them at the same time.
It is going to be difficult. That fact won't be a mystery to you. Being apart is hard, but with love and devotion, you've made that an integral part of your life. With this same kind of love and devotion, you can fight this battle as a parent. Please know that you're not alone. You might feel like you are, you might feel disconnected from your family and loved ones but you're not. Once the diagnosis comes, your first duty as you approach the battle is to rally your troops. If not for you, then for your children. Show them that they too will not be alone. The family dynamic might change while you're fighting your diagnosis, but there will be a parade of love and care for them and you if you let it.
There are many important things to keep in mind when going through your diagnosis as a parent. You will need to find the best fit for you and your family, make informed and family-based decisions on what's best for all of you, and your decisions will not be the same as anyone else's. This is all okay. Here are some tips and ideas to keep in mind as you begin this journey, together.
You are still a parent when you receive your diagnosis, this is not your fault. Your children want to help you, love you, and support you on this journey. Let them in. Know when to say no, be strong enough to set boundaries and to let people in, and know when it's time to ask for help. You will not hang up your superhero mom cape when it's time to ask for help or when treatment has you beat. If anything, it makes your cape that much stronger. We will see you next time for part two of this blog. Until then be well, keep fighting, and go into 2020 with your head up.