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October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month

What you can do to make a difference.

This morning I found out that a friend of mine was going in today to have a breast biopsy due to an abnormal mammogram. My heart immediately went out to her.  

As I wrote about last year, I went through the same . Fortunately, mine turned out to be a benign mass, but not a day goes by when I don't think about it and realize how fortunate I was with my outcome. It helped enormously that I had my friends and family support me, including my hockey mom friends who took me out for dinner and for drinks before my surgery, and brought in some much-needed levity by sending me off with a Slippery Nipple shot!

According to the Illinois State Cancer Registry, an estimated 9,850 women in Illinois will be diagnosed with breast cancer this year; about 1,880 will die from the disease.

BreastCancer.org reports that:

  • About 1 in 8 women in the United States (12 percent) will develop invasive breast cancer over the course of her lifetime.
  • In 2010, an estimated 207,090 new cases of invasive breast cancer were expected to be diagnosed in women in the United States, along with 54,010 new cases of noninvasive breast cancer
  • About 1,970 new cases of invasive breast cancer were expected to be diagnosed in men in 2010. Less than 1 percent of all new breast cancer cases occur in men.
  • For women in the United States, breast cancer death rates are higher than those for any other cancer, besides lung cancer. Besides skin cancer, breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer among U.S. women. More than 1 in 4 cancers in women (about 28 percent) are breast cancer.
  • About 70 to 80 percent of breast cancers occur in women who have no family history of breast cancer. These occur due to genetic abnormalities that happen as a result of the aging process and life in general, rather than inherited mutations.

This October marks the 25th anniversary of National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. In addition to providing emotional support, kind words and prayers for those with breast cancer, there are additional simple outlets for showing your support of finding a cure:

  • Save Lids to Save Lives. Between now and Dec. 31, Yoplait Yogurt will donate 10 cents for very pink lid redeemed via email or online, for up to $2 million. The money raised will benefit breast cancer outreach programs and research in local communities.
  • Making Strides Against Breast Cancer.  Put your best foot forward and participate in the Making Strides Against Breast Cancer event, Oct. 16 at Cantigny Park in Winfield. The noncompetitive walks range in distance from 3 to 5 miles and the money raised benefits the American Cancer Society. 
  • Messages of Hope. On Oct. 10, College of DuPage will host “Messages of Hope — A Free Community Conversation on Breast Cancer Awareness for Women." Participants will receive information about early detection, prevention methods and the latest resources available to enhance a woman’s chances of breast cancer survival. The event will also feature a MAMMACARE® Breast Exam Workshop. 

Finally, the most important thing you can do is conduct monthly self breast examinations. It only takes a few minutes and that is how I detected my lump.  Also, get routine mammograms as recommended for your age. If you are uninsured or underinsured, the DuPage Community Clinic in Wheaton offers free or reduced-cost mammograms if you enroll as one of their clients.

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