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What You Can Do For Me

Based on the reaction I’ve received about the end of my previous post, I want to expand on those thoughts a little more.

One common thread running through every one of your phone calls and e-mails and cards and kind words is your offer to help. You all ask me, “Can I do anything?” Well, I can finally answer your question. I know what you can do.

If you are a woman, learn how to do a breast self-exam; and then do it. Pick up the phone right now and schedule an annual mammogram if you haven’t done it yet. Take a few hours off work; get a sitter for the kids…whatever you need to do to make the time. Don’t put it off.

If you are a man, make sure that the women you love--your wife, mother, sister, daughter, friend--are keeping a close eye on their breast health. There is no cure for breast cancer—the only way to get rid of it is to find it and to treat it.

As Americans we need to get over our discomfort in talking about breasts in order to keep an open dialog about this. If it's out of sight and out of conversation, it's out of mind. Join me in keeping the conversation going.

And don’t make the mistake, as I did, of thinking that it can’t happen to you. It can. By all accounts I should be at a low risk for breast cancer. I have three children and I had them before I was 35. I breastfed all three of them. I’m no health nut (as those who have seen my proclivity for martinis, champagne, and decadent chocolate desserts can attest to), but I live a healthy lifestyle—I exercise regularly and eat lots of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. I drink very, very little caffeine and I avoid NutraSweet like the plague. I have never smoked, I’m only 41, and I take calcium and vitamin D supplements. And yet I have breast cancer. (There is the possibility that my cancer could be caused by a gene. I will eventually have genetic testing done to determine if that is the case.) But whether it’s caused by a gene or not, the point is that you can’t do anything about it until you find it. And to find it you must look for it by doing monthly self-exams and by having annual mammograms. I found a lump in my breast by accident...but if I had been doing regular self-exams I probably would have caught it sooner.

If you want to do something for me, please do this: be vigilant about breast cancer. Do it for all the people who love you, but most of all, do it for yourself. I don’t want anyone I know to ever have to go through what I am going through.

I posted these links yesterday, but I think they're worth reposting:
Click here for a link to an online video from the Susan G. Komen foundation about how and when to do a self-exam.
Click here for an article from breastcancer.org about how to do breast self-exams.

In addition, click here for a printable PDF file containing BSE (Breast Self-Exam) instructions.


Just to further expound on Kim's comments, there doesn't have to be a lump for cancer to be present. I would have never found mine with self-examination, because there was no lump yet. It was only detectable by maamography. I simply had a doctor who believes that women should begin having mammograms at 35 years old. It is that type of proactive healthcare that most likely saved my life. Go Kim!!!!! Get the word out.

I'm going. I'm going. I am calling the gyno on Monday to schedule a mamography. I promise. It's smart and there is no harm in doing it now.

here from HD's blog.
you are an amazing woman & this is a great site. Thank you for all of the nudges & education.