Can You Get Breast Cancer If It Doesn't Run In The Family?
Start writing a post
Health and Wellness

Just Because Breast Cancer Doesn't Run In The Family, Doesn't Mean You Aren't At Risk

My mother's journey opened my eyes.

Just Because Breast Cancer Doesn't Run In The Family, Doesn't Mean You Aren't At Risk

The American Cancer Society suggests that women ages 40 – 44 should have the choice to start their annual breast cancer screening with mammograms if they wish to do so. Women ages 45 – 54 are recommended to get mammograms every year, and women 55 and older can either receive them every two years or can continue with the yearly screening.

I was recommended to begin getting mammograms when I turn 25 years old. I have known how to a self-exam to check for breast cancer since I was 18. I am healthy, I have zero family history of breast cancer, and I do not carry either of the BRCA genes that make me more susceptible to the disease. So why am I checking for breast cancer? Because despite the fact that there is no existence of breast cancer in my family, and despite that fact that no one in my family carries the BRCA gene, my mom battled breast cancer anyway.

13 years ago my mom was diagnosed with metaplastic carcinoma, a type of breast cancer that an individual was 0.2% likely to be diagnosed with. A breast cancer that was so rare, doctors were unable to determine what stage it was in. She was young, 100% healthy, fit, and active; cancer wasn't even on the radar.

But why is everyone at risk for something that is so rare? The thing about cancer is all it is is an out-of-control cell growth. Cancer harms the body when altered cells divide uncontrollably to form lumps or masses of tissue, called tumors. Cancerous tumors are made up of the basic building block of all living things. They are created by the thing that makes us human.

So why does the body have the ability to essentially attack itself? We don't know. But cancer is not something you prepare for; it is not something you expect to happen.

About one in eight U.S. women, roughly 12.4%, and about one in 1,000 men will develop invasive breast cancer over the course of his or her lifetime. If I put that in perspective, I live in a house of six college students. If two more individuals are added, there is a likelihood that one of us will develop breast cancer in our lifetime. That is all it takes. Eight people and the statistic is there.

My mom survived breast cancer, and I wouldn't be the woman I am today if she hadn't. I was only 8-years-old when cancer occurred, and it is hard to imagine what life would've been like growing up without a mother. Roughly four years ago, my mom went back to the doctor because she felt some new lumps that had never been there before. Fortunately, they ended up not being a problem, but at that moment when she told me that there were new lumps that had formed, my stomach immediately lept into my throat. As an adult, the idea of cancer becomes more real. As a child, you don't fully understand what is occurring, but as you age, you know that this becomes a life or death situation.

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, but as human beings, we should always be aware. You should be doing frequent checks on yourself, and you should be going to the doctor if anything is out of the ordinary. The reality of cancer is that it can happen to anyone. You could have multiple cancers in your family medical history, or you could have none. You could be the healthiest and fittest you have ever been, and cancer can still strike you at any moment.

While I am grateful every day that my mother is a survivor, I still know too many young people who have lost their fights. Individuals who I grew up with, who were the same age as me. This story shows that cancer doesn't pick and choose, so don't become another statistic.

Visit the American Cancer Society's website for more information.

All statistics courtesy of the American Cancer Society.

Report this Content
This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
the beatles
Wikipedia Commons

For as long as I can remember, I have been listening to The Beatles. Every year, my mom would appropriately blast “Birthday” on anyone’s birthday. I knew all of the words to “Back In The U.S.S.R” by the time I was 5 (Even though I had no idea what or where the U.S.S.R was). I grew up with John, Paul, George, and Ringo instead Justin, JC, Joey, Chris and Lance (I had to google N*SYNC to remember their names). The highlight of my short life was Paul McCartney in concert twice. I’m not someone to “fangirl” but those days I fangirled hard. The music of The Beatles has gotten me through everything. Their songs have brought me more joy, peace, and comfort. I can listen to them in any situation and find what I need. Here are the best lyrics from The Beatles for every and any occasion.

Keep Reading...Show less
Being Invisible The Best Super Power

The best superpower ever? Being invisible of course. Imagine just being able to go from seen to unseen on a dime. Who wouldn't want to have the opportunity to be invisible? Superman and Batman have nothing on being invisible with their superhero abilities. Here are some things that you could do while being invisible, because being invisible can benefit your social life too.

Keep Reading...Show less

19 Lessons I'll Never Forget from Growing Up In a Small Town

There have been many lessons learned.

houses under green sky
Photo by Alev Takil on Unsplash

Small towns certainly have their pros and cons. Many people who grow up in small towns find themselves counting the days until they get to escape their roots and plant new ones in bigger, "better" places. And that's fine. I'd be lying if I said I hadn't thought those same thoughts before too. We all have, but they say it's important to remember where you came from. When I think about where I come from, I can't help having an overwhelming feeling of gratitude for my roots. Being from a small town has taught me so many important lessons that I will carry with me for the rest of my life.

Keep Reading...Show less
​a woman sitting at a table having a coffee

I can't say "thank you" enough to express how grateful I am for you coming into my life. You have made such a huge impact on my life. I would not be the person I am today without you and I know that you will keep inspiring me to become an even better version of myself.

Keep Reading...Show less
Student Life

Waitlisted for a College Class? Here's What to Do!

Dealing with the inevitable realities of college life.

college students waiting in a long line in the hallway

Course registration at college can be a big hassle and is almost never talked about. Classes you want to take fill up before you get a chance to register. You might change your mind about a class you want to take and must struggle to find another class to fit in the same time period. You also have to make sure no classes clash by time. Like I said, it's a big hassle.

This semester, I was waitlisted for two classes. Most people in this situation, especially first years, freak out because they don't know what to do. Here is what you should do when this happens.

Keep Reading...Show less

Subscribe to Our Newsletter

Facebook Comments