(See bottom of this post for links to each instalment of my breast cancer story – currently a 15 part series.)
While breast cancer “awareness” in October is great, I agree with a line I read somewhere recently: “There are probably six people left in the country who aren’t aware of breast cancer”. Instead of encouraging you to just be aware, this month I hope you’ll take action with one or more of these 7 ideas:
- Check yourself out. You need to know what looks and feels normal for your breasts, so that you’ll know when anything changes.
- Schedule your first/next mammogram or call your doctor to find out when you should begin screening – you might be surprised.
- Support someone who has breast cancer. You may need to go beyond your inner circle: that woman from work you’ve barely spoken to, your second cousin, a mom from last year’s lacrosse team. (See Part 13 below for a huge range of ideas.) If you know the spouse, parent or child better, touch base with them to offer support. Cancer affects the entire family.
- Make a financial donation. I’m not going to recommend any specific charities, but I can tell you I will be directing money towards an upcoming campaign for my local hospital – more details to come; see photo below.
- Reach out to a breast cancer survivor – while some object to that word, I figure if I’m still here that means I’ve survived! Whether treatment ended a month, year, or decade ago, survivors haven’t forgotten about it. All the coverage this month may be triggering, so a few words of support could make a big difference.
- Inform yourself. Take a look at the different chapters in my story at the bottom of this post, and click on the one that you’re most interested in learning about. Some are more medical and scientific (with links to reputable sites), some are more personal. And please be careful you aren’t perpetuating myths in your conversations with breast cancer patients/survivors or their families. (A couple of my favourites: a mastectomy is always better than a lumpectomy, and eating sugar causes breast cancer. Nope, neither is true.)
- Share this post. Nothing makes me happier than hearing that my story has helped someone, even in a small way, so I’d love if you would pass it along. You can post the link on Facebook or Twitter, share my Instagram post in your stories, or simply email it to someone who might appreciate it. I’d also be thrilled to hear from you if you take action on any of the other points above – let me know how it goes!
Photo by Mark Ridout Photography for the Ross Memorial Hospital Foundation. I’m involved in a very special project with the Foundation which I’ll be sharing soon, and the photographer for this shoot ended up being the same one who shot our wedding 20 years ago!
My Breast Cancer Story…So Far
Part 1: With FAQs
Part 2: All the Variations of “How Are You?”
Part 3: Risk Factors, Screening, Signs & Updates
Part 4: You Know What They Say About the Waiting…
Part 5: Surgery Decisions & Details
Part 6: The Role of Faith
Part 7: Self-Isolation Updates
Part 8: Surgery Day
Part 9: Recovery & Results
Part 10: Treatment Plan
Part 11: Radiation Ready
Part 12: Cancer Controversies
Part 13: Gestures & Gifts
Part 14: Radiation Wrap-Up
Part 15: The Mental Health Piece