Amongst cancers affecting females, breast cancer still reduces life expectancy when diagnosed. However, if diagnosed early, it is treatable and survival rates are very good.
Survival from breast cancer depends on many factors, one of which is how far the cancer has spread. The relative survival rate for breast cancer presenting as a lump in the breast only, is 99 %. This percentage is calculated by comparing the survival rate of women with breast cancer to that of women without breast cancer. The earlier breast cancer is detected, the earlier treatment can be given, and the better your chance of living a long and healthy life.
Although we are all unique, we should not shy away from looking after our breast health. Regular self-examination and breast examination by your doctor should be routine practise amongst all women, and not a feared event.
Knowledge is power and knowing how to do a breast examination on yourself empowers you and allows you to actively take charge of your own health. During Breast Cancer Awareness month, we want to break some of the barriers and fears surrounding the topic. Women must openly discuss topics such as lumps, breast examinations, mammograms and even cancer. Sharing our experiences and needs liberates us, and in doing so, we can celebrate our breasts!
Perhaps you already have a “breast friend” – someone you can take all your troubles to with no fear of judgement or rejection. In the same way that we make use of gym-buddies to keep us on the straight-and-narrow, just so, a “breast friend” will help remind you about monthly self-examination and your mammogram; offer a supportive ear if you do find anything strange; and become a pillar of strength when you most need it. Through sharing the burden of the unknown, you can start looking at your breasts with love and respect – rather than fear or resentment.
• Hear more from other women about their experience of a mammogram.
• Organise a get-together for you and your friends to openly discuss your fears and anxieties around breast cancer. Sharing experiences and worries will help you all to cope better.
• Know what risk factors might be applicable to you – go through this list and chat to your doctor about them next time you visit.
• Find hope from those who’ve made it – watch Beryl & Lizelle’s inspiring story of thriving after cancer.
Share this article with your friends as a reminder that you’re their friend and their breasts’ friend! #BreastFriendsForever