Breast Cancer is the second most common cancer among women in the U.S. It is estimated that 1 in every 8 women will develop invasive breast cancer during their lives, according to cancer.org. If you, a loved one, or a close friend has been diagnosed, it is often easy to become discouraged and feel like you are helpless. Although you may not be a medical professional, there are ways you can help in the battle against breast cancer, and can make a big difference in someone you loves life. Sixty percent of all breast cancer occurs in women aged 65 and over, chances are high that someone you know has been affected by breast cancer, let these tips give you ideas on ways to support them.
5 Ways That Women Can Fight Against Breast Cancer
Self-Examinations and Yearly Examinations
Self-Examination is the most efficient way to ensure you are doing all you can in your own fight against the prevention of Breast Cancer. There are three easy ways to do self-examinations at home that take under five minutes. The first is in the shower, the second is in front of a mirror and the third is lying down. While you are performing these exams, check for any unusual lumps, bulges or discoloration that is abnormal for you.
Although self-examinations are important, they do not replace a doctor. It is still vital to get a yearly examination that will include a doctor exam, mammogram or an ultrasound. The American Cancer Society recommends women of average risk begin getting regular mammograms starting at the age of 40. Recommendations for breast cancer screening vary depending on risk and age.
It is easy to get busy in life and forget to schedule this important yearly appointment. There are several ways to help remind you to make an appointment. One is when you are filling out your calendar at the start of a new year; write a reminder to get one done during the month of your birthday. Another way is to check with your primary care office and see if they offer mail reminders or phone calls.
Remind Your Friends and Family
Women have the power to uplift and support each other. You set an example to your friends and family by going in to get screened. You can develop a list of five to- ten women whom you are closet with and remind them when you are getting your yearly screening done that they should as well. You can call them, visit them, or even get creative and craft up a card to remind them. You may end up saving a life by doing this.
Support Loved Ones Who are Battling
Being diagnosed with any cancer can be the most frightening thing to have happen to a person. Even if they are surrounded by friends, family and support groups, it is easy to feel alone in their sickness and as if no one understands them or what they are going through. There are several things you as a friend or family member can do to help your loved one experience support from you.
- Cook meals- While going through Chemotherapy, patients will often experience nausea and vomiting for several days after their treatment. However, the days that follow often leave them feeling weak and they aren’t able to do simple tasks due to lack of energy. Ask your friend or loved one if there is a special meal they would like cooked. Keep in mind that chemotherapy can affect the taste buds, so your friend or loved one might not enjoy their favorite dishes like they normally do.
- Offer to sit through a treatment– A chemo treatment can take anywhere between two and four hours. These can be eased if you have company with you. Ask your friend or loved one if they would appreciate your support in being there. If they would enjoy your presence, consider taking items along with you to help pass the time for both of you. Ask the hospital if they have a television or portable DVD player that would be available, and if so, bring along a favorite movie of the patient. You can also help pass the time by bring a book to read aloud to them, knitting if they are feeling well enough, or small snacks that their doctor has okayed.
- Make a care package– Maybe you live far away from your friend or family member so you aren’t able to go to treatments and doctor appointments with them. You can show your love and support by making a chemo care package for them with some essentials to help ease their treatment time. This package could include: A book, stuffed animal, Sudoku and crossword puzzles, hard candies to suck on, fuzzy socks, stress relief tea, lotions, hand sanitizer, dry mouth toothpaste/mouth wash, a scarf or hat and an inspirational message they can read when they feel discouraged.
Remember Those Who Lost Their Battle
There are many of us who have lost a loved one to breast cancer. Just because they are no longer with us doesn’t mean we have to stop fighting the battle for them. You may remember them by planting their favorite flower in your garden, buying a special frame for a picture of you with them, or have a Christmas ordainment in honor of them on your tree. If you are able to partake in a Relay for Life, Susan G. Komen’s Race for the Cure or any walk that is aimed to battle cancer, you can often time walk in memory of someone. Around the holidays some towns have memory trees. Check if your town offers something similar and purchase a star or angel in memory of your loved one.
Raise Awareness, Raise Funds or Donate
October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, an annual observance designed to increase awareness of the disease. Challenge yourself to raise as much awareness to those around you as you can. Pink is the official color for Breast Cancer Awareness. You can show your support and raise awareness by adding more pinks to your wardrobe this month, or finding a location that gives out pink ribbons to wear. You can also purchase shirts to raise awareness or put a sticker on your car. If you use social media, let that be a platform that you use to raise awareness to your followers. In addition to raising awareness you may want to help support the cause by raising funds or donating for the research and treatment of breast cancer.
While there may not be a cure for breast cancer yet, you can still help save life by encouraging self-examinations that lead to early detection. You can be a light and an encouragement to those who are battling and help them feel less alone.