October is Breast Cancer Awareness month. Why do we even need a month set aside for breast cancer awareness? Isn't it publicized enough? Between the pink ribbons, the walks, runs and races for the cure, especially during the summer months, is the message getting through? Is it?
Speaking directly to the moms, now: Do you do your BSE (breast self-exam) every month? Almost every month? Until you start having regular mammograms, that's really your best hope for early detection of the disease.
Have you discussed your risk factors with your doctor? Do you know what your risk factors are?
And for the forty and over crowd … how many of you have gone for your baseline mammogram? And how many of you are still making excuses why you haven't?
I'm no angel, I've been procrastinating, too. I used the excuse "still nursing" when my doctor mentioned I should get one soon after my fortieth birthday. That didn't last much longer. But since my doctor didn't mention it again, it got put on the back burner. I'm so busy taking care of my family that I can't possibly take time out for a simple mammogram.
So here's the kicker: if my family needs me so much now, what would happen to them if I did get breast cancer? What if I was so busy that it wasn't discovered until too late? Now what?
Do they need me so much today that they can live without me tomorrow?
It is within your power to reduce your risk of breast cancer. So what can you do? Start by reading the information that's out there. When your monthly women's magazine has a special section on breast health, read the entire section. Check out any web sites mentioned, such as http://www.breastcancer.org and http://www.youngsurvival.org for more details. You'll find advice to keep up with BSE's, schedule annual mammograms once you reach your fortieth birthday (and yes I did, finally!) and what I call the Big Four, which is what we all should be doing anyway.
1. Quit Smoking. As if you need ANOTHER reason.
2. Drink Moderately - no more than one drink per day.
3. Maintain a healthy weight. Whether you have 10 extra pounds or 100, get rid of them. I joined www.sparkpeople.com this summer for some extra support (it's totally free), but you may find one of the millions of other programs out there is more for you. Just do it.
4. Get Moving. Regular exercise strengthens your immune system, and active moms can not only keep up with all their children, but stay one step ahead of them.
Do it for yourself; do it for your family. Remember, healthy parents raise healthy kids.
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