Breast Cancer Awareness In Months Other Than October
October was National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. It was hard to miss. My Twitter fam had their pink ribbon Twibbons, the National Football League was rocking pink nonstop and there was even a Lifetime movie dedicated to breast cancer.
I was in full awareness mode myself. I hate cancer. I had my pink Komen awareness band, attended a couple of events, awkwardly talked to men and women about breast cancer and even shared my own story with a couple of people.
But after the last day in October the awareness seems to subside. Everyone feels as if they’ve “checked the box” and can move on to the next cause. Therein lies the problem. Breast cancer awareness doesn’t achieve anything if it doesn’t shake your consciousness enough to do a self-exam, get a mammogram, or talk to the women in your family about your family’s medical history.
What’s the point if we go back to our regularly scheduled lives and don’t internalize what we’ve learned and parroted to others. So, a week into November I”m raising breast cancer awareness. It is a common topic here mostly borne out of frustration that we hear the messages, but we’re not getting the message.
Janice Phillips, a 2010-2011 Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Health Policy Fellow, wrote a great post on African American Women and Breast Cancer. It is re-posted here in hopes that you get the message:
Although white women typically have a higher incidence of breast cancer, African American women under the age of 40 actually have the highest incidence of breast cancer when compared to any other populations of women. African American women regardless of age are more likely to die from the disease (American Cancer Society 2011).
Increasingly we are learning that African American women are being diagnosed with breast cancer at an earlier age. Although rare, this is of great concern as many African American women often present with very aggressive breast cancers. In some instances, younger women have been dismissed when presenting with concerns, in part due, to the notion that they are too young to have breast cancer. While this is not meant to alarm us, we do however need to stay in tuned with our bodies, engage in breast self-awareness and get our mammograms when appropriate. For those that are not age eligible for mammograms, there are other measures such as ultrasounds and MRI’s that can help in diagnosing breast conditions. Communicating with our health care providers regarding our concerns is a must! Be sure to ask when you can anticipate getting your results, this includes receiving your results in writing.
Never assume no news is good news!
As African American women, we can take heart that each day researchers, breast cancer advocates and organizations are busily searching for more answers for the prevention, early diagnosis and treatment of breast cancer. Recently, researchers launched the Women’s Circle of Health Study, a study specifically designed to look at breast cancer in African American women.