October is a month full of vibrant colors; red, orange, yellow, and …. pink. Yes, I said pink. While October is known for its beautiful foliage, it is also Breast Cancer Awareness Month. According to the American Cancer Society, “breast cancer is the most common cancer in American women, except for skin cancers.” Currently, the average risk of a woman in the United States developing breast cancer sometime in her life is about 12 percent. And men, don’t think you’re off the hook. While breast cancer is less common in men, it can still happen.
So how can you prepare yourself for such a life changing event? The key is early detection. I met with three of our local breast cancer survivors; Angie Ballance, Amber Schultz, and Kimberly Martin, to discuss it and they can all agree the self-exams are number one when it comes to detecting this disease.
“My lump appeared out of nowhere,” Angie said.
“I had a sore spot that I was ignoring,” added Amber.
Kimberly included that she was feeling a “tingling sensation.”
So, what are you looking for exactly? Anything that feels abnormal to you. You know your body. When in doubt, get it checked out.
According to the American Cancer Society, “while mammograms are the best form of screening, it does have limitations. Overall screening mammograms do not find about 1 in 5 breast cancers. A false-positive mammogram looks abnormal even though no cancer is actually present. These cases require extra testing.”
“I found my lump days after my annual exam. That is how quickly it showed up,” said Amber. “My lump was not there one day and was there the next,” Angie said. That is why self-exams are so important. How often should you perform a self-exam? It is suggested by the Maurer Foundation that you check at least once a month and around the same time period each month. For more information on breast cancer and to download a print-friendly version of how to do a breast self-exam visit maurerfoundation.org.
The search for the cause and a cure continues. What can you do to help? It’s always a good idea to start local.
You can always make straight donations to the Hatteras Island Cancer Foundation. HICF is an organization that helps cancer patients with medial bills and prescriptions not covered by insurance and travel expenses to and from treatment. All three women had nothing but praises for this organization. You can also look at your local businesses to support the cause.
Many restaurants have joined the HICF “Drink Pink” campaign during the month of October and created drink specials with all the proceeds or a portion of going to HICF:
In addition to the Drink Pink Campaign, here is a list of other ongoing October HICF fundraisers you can also join in to help support the cause:
Below is a complete list of Hatteras Island Cancer Foundations fundraisers: