October marks the month of Breast Cancer Awareness. Such recognition is one of the most prominent involving cancer awareness. Pink options, walks, and percentages of purchases all startup to give money to breast cancer research and treatment. According to the American Cancer Society, there is a 12% chance of a woman getting breast cancer at some point in her life. That averages to every 1 out of 8 women in the United States. Almost everyone knows at least one person, a friend, family member, or acquaintance that has had this particular cancer at some point. Many believe that it will never happen to them and if it ever did, they would acquire it when they were older. That is the mindset that many still have today, even with the warnings and precautions trying to tell women otherwise.
I personally know multiple people who think they are "too young" or at "no risk" for breast cancer because they are only in their early 20s. What many don't know is that there is plenty of risk for the younger generation, especially recently with cancer diagnosis percentages going up. Although my only relations diagnosed with breast cancer were of an older generation, I still know others with cancer scares who were barely the age of 20.
Last year a nineteen-year-old friend of mine noticed an odd lump on her left breast when doing a breast self-exam. It obviously caused some concern so she made an appointment to get it checked out. Her primary doctor then sent her to a specialist for the situation. She had a consultation with a doctor who did an ultrasound on the mass, showing a tumor. The doctor then recommended a biopsy of the mass. She wanted to it get removed due to its size though, so they opted for a surgical procedure followed by a biopsy to determine if it was cancerous or not. The procedure was scheduled and she went in a week later to get the mass removed. Once the mass was biopsied they saw that it was thankfully, not cancerous and was a fibroadenoma. The doctor went on to explain that fibroadenoma is a noncancerous tumor that can appear in the breast. Everyone was very thankful that the tumor was noncancerous, but it really opened up everyone's eyes regarding how tumors can really show up at any age and one must be vigilant about checking yourself. Without her breast self-exam, she could have missed it til a further time. In this scenario, it was not dangerous, but had it might it could have progressed and gotten worse.
Although this situation thankfully ended much better than we feared, it was still a reality check to her family and friends. It shows the importance of being responsible and self-advocating for yourself and keeping a watch on your health. One should get in the habit of checking yourself about once a month for any differences in your breasts. Checking that often gives you a familiarity with how they are and that way one can tell well enough if something seems different or abnormal. You can ask your doctor about how to best check yourself with a self-breast exam or check out sources such as national breast cancer or breast cancer.org, which offer good instruction, as well as pictures to go along with the instruction.
You are never too young to take yourself and to enhance your well being. Checking by self-breast exams keeps yourself in check with your body and conscious to its changes and functions. Such proactive practices are needed no matter your age to keep yourself healthy. So women (and men) spread the word to help keep our mothers, sisters, daughters, and friends aware of preventative measures one can take towards breast cancer.