As a girl growing up in the South, my momma always taught me not to fight, to act like a lady, always let a man open the door for you and don’t be afraid to cook with bacon grease. Cross my heart, she kept an old coffee can of bacon grease above the stove! But when it comes to breast cancer, she is my hero and also a survivor. She taught me through her determination and her quiet resolve to “Fight Like a Mother” and because of that, she is still going strong and she is a breast cancer survivor.
October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and pink is the signature color. Like me, you’ve probably gotten lots of articles and blogs in your social media feeds about this life changing issue. According to Time Magazine, the first pink ribbons were handed out in 1991 at the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure in New York City, the same year that saw the founding of the National Breast Cancer Coalition. This small grassroots movement is now global and has been fundamental to giving women and men a voice about their bodies and treatment options.
Below are some facts, from the Susan G. Komen Foundation, about breast cancer risks and lifestyle options that may reduce your risk. Read them, share them, continue to talk about this disease so that the cause can become a cure.
Some factors linked to a higher risk of breast cancer are:
- A family history of breast, ovarian or prostate cancer
- A personal history of breast cancer, including ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS)
- Alcohol use
- Ashkenazi Jewish heritage
- An inherited BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene mutation
- Being a woman
- Being overweight (especially after menopause)
- Current or recent use of birth control pills
- Current or recent use (for more than 5 years) of menopausal hormone therapy (postmenopausal hormone use) containing estrogen plus progestin
- Age. A woman’s chance of getting breast cancer increases with age
- Exposure to large amounts of radiation at a young age
- High breast density on a mammogram
- Hyperplasia or lobular carcinoma in situ (LCIS)
- Never having children or having a first child after age 35
- Not breastfeeding
- Older age at menopause
- Younger age at first period
Making healthy lifestyle choices may lower your risk of getting breast cancer. Consider the following:
- Maintain a healthy weight. A weight gain of 20 pounds or more after the age of 18 and/or being overweight after menopause may increase your risk of breast cancer. Therefore, losing weight may lower your risk of breast cancer.
- Add exercise to your routine. Physical activity not only burns energy, but also may help lower your risk of breast cancer. Exercise fights obesity and may lower estrogen levels. It may also boost the immune system so that it can help kill or slow the growth of cancer cells. All you need is moderate (where you break a sweat) activity — like brisk walking for 30 minutes a day.
- Limit alcohol intake. Many studies have also shown that drinking alcohol increases the risk of breast cancer. The more alcohol you drink, the higher your risk of breast cancer. If you drink alcohol, have less than one drink a day
As mothers, daughters, wives, aunts and grandmothers, we tend to put the wellbeing of our loved ones before our own personal care. However, self-care is just as important as caring for others to ensure that we have the health, strength and longevity to care for the ones we love. Awareness of potential risk factors, proper medical screenings and maintaining a healthy lifestyle may help reduce your risk of breast cancer and keep you around to “Fight Like a Mother.”
New Direction Family Law