As it is now Breast Cancer Awareness Month, the world is being surrounded in pink. However, despite so much pink promotion, I’ve always wondered why so many of my breast cancer patients fervently avoid pink. Not surprisingly, pink often reveals painful reminders of unpleasant experiences, difficult mammograms, memories of anxiety, sadness and pain while undergoing biopsies, consultations, surgeries and treatments, as well as painful thoughts of loved ones lost. But there can be good pink memories, too, like time with friends and co-survivors, participation in breast cancer awareness runs and walks in pink attire (pink wigs and feather boas included!), ribbons to show support and love, and pink flowers. It’s a way to see life from a different perspective while wearing rose-colored glasses.
My dream is for Breast Cancer Awareness Month to be so much more than it is today. I want women to choose not only to get a mammogram, but also to actively engage in breast health and wellness. This means that a woman OWNS her future by:
- learning of her familial or genetic breast cancer risk;
- undergoing annual mammography beginning at age 40 (or earlier if high risk);
- ensuring her prior mammograms are available for comparison;
- knowing her mammographic breast tissue density (the higher the density, the greater the risk for breast cancer as well as the greater the possibility that additional screening measures should be considered);
- taking preventative measures for better health (smoking cessation, healthy diet, regular exercise) ; and
- TAKING THE TIME TO CARE FOR HERSELF, not solely caring for others.
Not sure where to start? Below are a few relevant websites to help take these steps:
- National Cancer Institute Breast Cancer Assessment Tool
- DenseBreast-info.org ( See also the organization’s Breast Cancer risk checklist )
- Mammography Saves Lives
“Pink” should be a reminder that women need to take care of all of themselves, not just their breasts. We need to feel secure in the fact that IF breast cancer affects those of us who are engaged, we are most likely to detect it early, when it is curable.