The Importance of Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Kendall Dexter, Staff Writer

Due to the pandemic, there has been a significant increase in advanced cancer diagnoses, breast cancer, for example. The connection between diagnoses of cancer and the Coronavirus pandemic relates back to cancelations and postponements of screenings for cancer. To many, when the world shut down, having a screening for cancer was not of much concern. Considering the length of the pandemic, it is not surprising that many people have yet to schedule these important screenings. The world has been in unprecedented territory with many unanswered questions. Focus has largely shifted to many other aspects of life, avoiding doctors appointments that, at the time, seemed to be insignificant. During the month of October, it is important to bring breast cancer to attention. It is easy to forget that an obstacle as significant as cancer can find its way into your life. This is certainly what my family assumed until my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer.

Although any type or stage of cancer is significantly challenging, my family and I have a lot to be grateful for when considering my mom’s battle with breast cancer. Thankfully, we caught it very early, so the cancer was small. She has not needed chemotherapy or radiation as it has been successfully removed with surgery. Towards the end of the summer, my mom underwent a double mastectomy. Without getting into the specifics, this surgery not only removed the cancer but will also, hopefully, prevent the development of any additional cancer. Recovery was definitely a challenge, but, with a lot of rest and help from family, my mom is now extremely close to being fully recovered. She has gained back almost all movement and will soon be returning to work. It has been a challenging journey for my mom, but she is strong and has persevered.

Throughout the pandemic, statistics regarding breast cancer were greatly impacted. Because screenings were put on hold over and over again, mammograms fell by almost 80%, and patients battling breast cancer faced challenges due to delayed treatments. The recommended age to begin scheduling annual mammograms is around forty years old. A US News article explains the possibility that excess deaths of breast cancer due to the COVID-19 pandemic could reach 2,487 over the next decade. Considering these statistics, it is really important to be aware of your own health. One aspect of breast cancer that many forge

t about is the fact that this type of cancer can occur in men too. Often, when discussing breast cancer, women are the only group addressed. However it is important for men to be educated for their own health as well. Breast cancer in men is rare, but around 1 in 100 breast cancer diagnoses is found in a man. All of this information can seem overwhelming, but during the current circumstances it is particularly important to spread awareness and stay informed.

With all of these aspects to take into consideration, it is a good idea

to take matters into your own hands. At first, this can seem like a difficult task, but there are many ways to take action. In terms of your own health, you can make sure to maintain a balanced diet and exercise regularly. You can also talk to your doctor about other ways to reduce your risk. This is particularly important if your family has a history of breast cancer. Aside from your own health, you can spread awareness by sharing information on social media or making a donation to the “National Breast Cancer Foundation” (linked below). Another interactive way to take action is to start a fundraiser. Currently, my mom is hosting a Facebook fundraiser in support of breast cancer. In our own school community at MHS, you can also support breast cancer awareness month. By wearing pink this October 29th, you spread support to survivors and encourage those who are currently battling breast cancer. Be sure to check in with your family members to ensure that they are protecting their own health by taking these precautions.

Conversations surrounding cancer can be overwhelming and hard to facilitate. However, breast cancer awareness month allows us to open up the conversation. The pandemic has impacted a lot in our lives, and it is important to consider its impacts surrounding your health outside of COVID-19. Scheduling a screening for breast cancer has often been pushed aside throughout the past year, but shown by the increase in breast cancer patients, these screenings are more than necessary. It is easy for us to assume that it won’t happen to us or our family, but, at least for me, my mom is a perfect example. A breast cancer diagnosis certainly caught her off guard, but it has opened our eyes and made us all stronger. With all of this being said, do not hesitate to ask questions or do research, protect your own health, and, most importantly, take action.