By: Chaunte McClure
Breast Cancer Awareness Month has ended, but unfortunately, breast cancer has not. Lumps are still forming in women’s and men’s breasts, patients are still undergoing chemo, families are hurting because their loved ones have been diagnosed, survivors are in remission and holding on to hope, and researchers are still trying to find a cure.
I hesitated to write this blog because I wanted to fit it in last month, but I didn’t want to interrupt the Baby Talk series. I decided to move forward with addressing the topic because I want you to remember to feel your boobies even after Breast Cancer Awareness Month is over.
In October, breast cancer awareness is heightened. But then it fizzles out until it’s promoted again the next year. Ladies, it is our responsibility to do monthly self-breast exams. Don’t wait until your annual doctor’s visit for your gynecologist to examine your breasts. Too often, cancer is detected late because women and men didn’t take time to feel their tatas. Perhaps we don’t think about it or maybe we think it can’t happen to us, but it can.
Think you’re too young? Keyah Gibson’s college career was interrupted in February because she was experiencing back pain, which was originally diagnosed as muscle spasms. Later in the spring semester, the pain was unbearable and her mom decided to take her to another doctor for a second opinion. There they learned that Keyah’s spine was deteriorating. The doctor told her either she was malnourished or had cancer. To her dismay, the test results showed she had breast cancer, which spread to her bones. Keyah withdrew from college to undergo six months of chemotherapy and last month, she rang the bell in celebration of her final round of chemo treatments. Keyah is doing well and has started a foundation, Fighting Pretty, to educate and bring awareness to other young ladies.
Not everyone survives this aggressive disease. In fact, according to the Center for Disease Control, more than 40,000 women died of breast cancer in 2011. My family was touched by this disease in 2006 when my aunt was diagnosed at stage four. She lived about six months after the diagnosis. Because of her, I pound the pavement at an annual walk in her memory and in honor and support of survivors and fighters like Keyah.
I’m in my late thirties and I’ve already had two mammograms. In my twenties, I discovered a lump in my breast and scheduled a doctor’s appointment as soon as I could. Fortunately, the lump is benign, but I have to continue monitoring it for changes.
Please don’t let the fact that you don’t have a family history of breast cancer stop you from getting a mammogram or doing self-breast exams. My family didn’t have a history (at least that we were aware of).
In case you still need to be convinced, remember, early detection saves lives. You’re worth it!