This is my first blog post of October! It’s up a bit late due to busy new mum schedule – yep that excuse once again. Well, it turns out that October is quite an important month for me. Not only is it my birthday and wedding anniversary month, but also a month of many great campaigns. October is also the month of:
- Breast Cancer Awareness Month
- Baby Loss Awareness Week
- Black History Month
I am going to try to dedicate some blog posts to each of these over the coming weeks, starting with Breast Cancer Awareness.
I posted this on Instagram earlier in the week.
Breast Cancer and Me
Breast Cancer is such an important illness to me personally. My mother battled breast cancer and unfortunately it took her life eighteen years ago. I witnessed her fight the disease for eight years, (there was a period of remission during this time). I saw the side effects of all of her treatments and operations and how they hampered her physically, but I also saw her desire, courage and determination to carry on enjoying life and to try to beat the disease, even through to her final days. She was the bravest woman I ever knew. I miss her everyday, more than I could ever express in words.
It took me years to grieve. In truth I probably pushed the emotions of my mother’s death to one side and tried to focus on my education. I know this is what she really wanted for me. I got myself into medical school knowing it would make her proud. I started University and loved it! But the grief soon caught up with me when my friend’s mother became terminally ill. It was at this time I began to address my grief and started to speak about my mother more and more, the pain easing slowly the more I did this.
Fast forward just over a decade and my world was shaken again when this illness affected my sister. How could this be? I was devastated… I won’t say much about this as it is not my story to tell, but thankfully, she is well. Living life to the max with her beautiful family. Breast cancer has also affected other family members and friends; it really is a common disease. I live each day wondering if it will affect me too. Of course I’ll never be able to predict this, no one knows who it will affect. But what do we know..?
- Breast Cancer is the most common cancer in the UK
- It affects about 1 in 8 women
- 80% of women with breast cancer are over the age of 50 (this does mean that the other 20% of women are under 50)
- Breast cancer also affects men! It is stated that 319 men are diagnosed each year (compared to around 55,000 women)²
- Screening (in England) is with mammogram for those aged 50-70. This may differ if you have a strong family history. Some areas are also trialling extended screening programmes for those aged 47-73
- Survival rates are dependent on the stage of the disease at the time of diagnosis. Therefore EARLY DETECTION IS KEY. Currently the overall 10 year survival rate is 78% in England and Wales³
- Please see your GP if you have a strong family history of breast cancer as you may need referral to a geneticist, or earlier screening. Some women may even be eligible for prophylactic medication if the risk is deemed significant.
Breast Cancer Awareness has been hugely successful over the years Now, more and more women (and men) are aware of the disease and the importance of early presentation, detection and diagnosis. This, along with improved medical care, research and fundraising have resulted in the improved survival rates. I am a huge fan of Breast Cancer Care, Cancer Research UK and CoppaFeel who I feel are really engaging with the younger generation. Check out their websites if you want further information on Breast Cancer, support or if you want to get involved.
Also, this year I came across this video on Instagram produced by Serena Williams – a provocative way to raise awareness for Breast Cancer and I love it! (Basically I love Serena Williams, and this song, and it is to raise awareness for Breast Cancer, was I ever not going to love this?)
What To Look Out For
It’s important to check your breasts regularly and I would suggest self examining at least monthly during the same phase of your menstrual cycle. Get to know what is normal for you and if you notice any of the changes above PLEASE see your GP/family doctor. Remember, early detection saves lives.
1 – Information from https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/breast-cancer/ unless cited otherwise October 2018)
2 – Information from https://www.breastcancercare.org.uk/
3 – Cancer Research UK https://www.cancerresearchuk.org/health-professional/cancer-statistics/statistics-by-cancer-type/breast-cancer Accessed October 2018