Every one of us has stare breast cancer in the face in one way or another. We either know a survivor or have been one ourselves. As of today, breast cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in women.
Ironically, that statistic doesn’t faze us.
Most of us have heard the word breast cancer as a child — tossed in conversations here and there between our parents and their friends. At the time, it’s a term with little impact on our lives. That is until we reach adolescence.
During our teenage year’s breast cancer is no longer a foreign concept to us. It comes to be a subject we all know too well.
By this time, having a basic understanding of the disease is common knowledge. Looking for signs and symptoms becomes second nature. Learning 1 in 8 (about 12 percent) women in the United States will develop invasive breast cancer during her lifetime is textbook.
As a millennial woman, I ask myself, what more can I do to prevent this disease from knocking on my door?
Becoming an expert is one way to start.
What is Breast Cancer?
Like all cancer, breast cancer occurs when cells begin to get out of control and usually forms a tumor. It can develop several ways in our breasts. Most of the time, it’s found in our ducts that carry milk to the nipple; other times, it begins in our glands that produce breast milk. On rare incidents, the cancer is in the tissue.
There is also the possibility that the cancer can spread to other parts of your body by blood or the lymph system.
No matter how lightly you put it, breast cancer is a hard pill to swallow.
There’s no easing your way into it. However, there is a chance to catch breast cancer early on, and it starts will knowing how your breasts look.
Ways of Preventions
Ladies’ prevention is key to any disease! Breast cancer is no different.
An ideal way to stay ahead of the game is being aware of any changes in your body. An essential part of breast health is looking for symptoms of breast cancer. The most common is a painless hard lump or mass underneath the skin. Other signs to look for are swelling of the breast, nipple discharge, skin dimpling, or swollen lymph nodes.
The information above is just the tip of the iceberg.
Understanding the fundamentals of this disease is helpful but can only get you so far. Using technology to enhance your success in finding or beating cancer is the number one priority.
The second step in the right direction is to get regular screening tests and mammograms.
These exams will help you exponentially in finding breast cancer in its early stages before any symptoms appear.
The next move is finding the right treatment for yourself.
Different Kinds of Treatments
With researchers perfecting current treatment, creating new ones, and discussing emerging therapies, the death rate from breast cancer has decreased by 40 percent since the late 80’s.
In my opinion, we have come a long way.
It’s remarkable and comforting to know technology is always progressing in the medical field. Every year researchers and doctors alike have found new ways to improve our chances of survival.
This year researchers have identified new approaches to treat estrogen receptor-positive breast cancer and HER2-positive breast cancer with cutting edge therapy and drugs.
Another development is the newly FDA approved PARP inhibitor for TNBC that is made by mutations in the BRCA1 AND BRCA2 genes.
Ideally, finding a cure is the primary goal, but knowing the best treatment option for you is imperative.
Other approaches to look into are:
- Local Treatments
- This option is to treat the tumor without affecting the rest of the body
- A course of action is either surgery or radiation
- Systemic Treatments
- This route can reach the cancer cell almost anywhere in the body by mouth or injecting directly in the bloodstream
- Several drug treatments are chemotherapy, hormone therapy, target therapy, and immunotherapy
- Common Treatment
- With this path, patients’ treatment plan is based on the type of breast cancer you have, the stage it’s in, and any unique situation.
Be confident in your decision, and do not be afraid to ask your doctor about the risks and side effects these treatments can have.
Foods to Eat and Avoid
Food is delicious. There is no other way to describe it. We all long to eat our comfort foods daily.
The harsh reality – we are harming ourselves.
All those weekly Sunday’s brunch with unlimited mimosas and easy to make ramen is damaging our internal systems in more ways than one.
Studies have shown red meat can increase breast cancer for women, mainly if a person cooks the food at a high temperature.
Eating trans-fat, commonly found in process foods, can develop it as well. Meaning our favorite sugary pastries and fried foods must go.
Changing one’s diet is daunting and hard for that matter, but knowing it can help with being cancer-free and living longer is a win in our book.
Eating a low-fat diet with more high-fiber promotes breast health.
A diet consisting of plant-based is linked to lower cancer risk. The reason being these foods are rich in vitamin C, beta-carotene, and selenium. Including fruits, vegetables, and grains in our regime has proven to help remove excess estrogens.
Learning how to eat is only half the battle. Maintaining a healthy body weight is the other. It’s beneficial to exercise regularly, at least four hours per week, to prevent obesity – a known risk factor for cancer.
Breast cancer is a serious matter.
It’s an ideal time for us to become a supporter. To wear and bleed pink. And hit the streets to walk for a purpose.
Gracing our calendar this month is an international health campaign known as National Breast Cancer Awareness Month (NBCAM).
Beginning October 1 to October 31, charities set out to increase awareness of the disease and raise funds for research to offering information and supporting those affected by breast cancer.
Now is the time to be a part of a cause that changes lives. Look at your fellow girlfriends, wear the pink ribbon proudly, and be proactive!
Yanaisis Collazo, Blog & Website Manager Intern