On most days, I feel like the average stay at home mom. I am in my early thirties raising two little girls while my husband goes out to battle his way through the corporate world. Together, we run a well oiled machine that is on the go from the early hours of the morning until very late at night. We all have good health and pass our annual physicals with flying colors. Like a lot of other young, healthy moms out there, the only day-to-day worry is keeping the busy schedules going. This was true for me up until a few months ago. While attending a mommy and me class with other young moms much like me, I had the opportunity to befriend one that was a true, bona fide supermom. She was helping her husband start his own company working from home while raising a total of seven children and loving every minute of it. She seemed invincible. She was not. She was diagnosed with cancer.
As with most people, it was unexpected. By the time she began treatment, it had begun to spread from her stomach to her back. It was painful to see her health begin to deteriorate and see the effect this had on her family, especially the seven children that depended on her daily care and love. Her fate is uncertain. My heart breaks for her and her family. I had never met someone with cancer on a personal level. The disease had never touched anyone in my family or close circle of friends. It had always been pink ribbons for support and inspirational stories on television. Now, however, it was here and it was tearing at the core of who I am. I am a mom who needs to be healthy to care for my children and a wife that longs to share a lifetime with her husband. What about my daughters? This disease looms over all of us. We need to take a stand and take action for ourselves and for our loved ones. The first question most women have is, “Am I at risk for Breast Cancer?” The answer is yes; all women are at risk for breast cancer. Being a woman is the number one risk factor for breast cancer. Your breast cancer risk increases as you get older. Most women who get breast cancer have no other known risk factors.
HERE ARE SOME TIPS FROM THE SUSAN G. KOMEN FOUNDATION TO HELP YOU GET STARTED ON YOUR MISSION OF TAKING CARE OF YOUR LIFE:
Know your risk
• Talk to your family to learn about your family health history.
• Talk to your health care provider about your personal risk of breast cancer.
• Ask your health care provider which screening tests are right for you if you are at a higher risk
• Have a mammogram every year starting at age 40 if you are at average risk
• Have a clinical breast exam at least every three years starting at 20, and every year starting at 40
Know what is normal for you
• Tell your health care provider right away if you notice a change in the way your breasts look or feel.
Make healthy lifestyle choices
• Maintain a healthy weight.
• Add exercise into your routine.
• Limit alcohol intake.
• Breastfeed if you can.
Once you’re on track with your own health, get involved in the ongoing fight against cancer. Organizations like the Susan G. Komen foundation provide a wide range of opportunities for all levels of community involvement:
• Fitness events, such as the Komen Race for the Cure (5K), Marathon for the Cure (13.1/26.2 miles) or the 3 Day for the cure (60 mile walk)
• Variety of local events through individual Komen affiliates
• Passionately Pink for the Cure, a creative way to engage friends, classmates and coworkers
• Public policy activities through the Komen Advocacy Alliance
• Products and promotions offered by corporate partners that support our cause
• Direct donation by phone, mail or online
Cancer may seem like a colossal adversary too powerful to be conquered, but if there is unity in this fight then there is hope. We have a responsibility to take action not just for ourselves and our families, but also for the millions of women out there that are just like us. Let’s help spread cancer awareness and join together in order to truly make a difference for this generation and those to come.
For more resources and ways you can get involved visit: ww5.komen.org
Article by Patty Mendoza