Most people can agree that when it comes to your health, you can never have enough good information. In today’s America, people are constantly being bombarded with health statistics, pharmaceutical advertisements and news stories about the latest in what you need to do to keep healthy. If you’re like most people, then you might find all this information confusing. Since rules and ideas about healthcare are constantly being changed, amended and argued, it’s sometimes hard to get a handle on what’s best for you and your family. Sadly, one of the most deadly diseases has been surrounded in this type of medical controversy. Breast cancer is a disease that has touched millions of lives and is a leading cause of death among women. That’s why it’s important for everyone to know the facts. There can be no confusion because when it comes to breast cancer, knowledge saves lives.
Regardless of what you’ve seen on television or heard from co-workers, family and friends, breast cancer is treatable and preventable. In America, there are hundreds of organizations, thousands of networks and millions of dollars dedicated to making breast cancer a thing of the past. These organizations and grants are completely committed to helping women of all backgrounds, ages and incomes. It doesn’t matter where you are from or how much money you make; there is someone out there who desperately wants to help and support you.
The prevention and survival of breast cancer depends on being well informed, knowing your body and early detection. It is important for women, starting as young as age 20, to develop breast awareness through breast self-examination or BSE. This will help you learn what your breasts feel like so that you can notice when your breasts change over time. It might surprise you to know that not all lumps are dangerous. However, if you find a lump, or notice a lump that grows, you should contact a doctor immediately.
Between the ages of 20 and 39, all women should get regular Clinical Breast Exam or a CBE. This exam is very simple and painless. It gives your doctor a chance to examine your breasts and determine if anything is out of the ordinary. This exam also gives you a chance to tell your doctor about any changes you’ve noticed during your self-exams.
Although there has been some controversy regarding the optimal age at which to start undergoing mammography for breast cancer screening, most expert groups continue to recommend that women should begin getting their yearly mammograms starting at age 40. It’s true that mammograms have mild dangers and limitations; however, the benefits greatly outweigh any risks. Mammograms detect cancer early and save lives.
If finances or lack of insurance is an issue standing in the way of you getting the type of care needed to prevent, diagnose and treat breast cancer then you should know that there are a host of organizations out there to help. Organizations such as the Susan G. Komen Foundation, Every Woman’s Life, and Planned Parenthood lead the way in providing uninsured and low-income women with exams, mammograms, literature and support. Locally, institutions like the Gloucester Matthews Free Clinic and the Health Department can help connect you to these resources.
There are also things that you can do outside the doctors office that are proven to help you stay cancer free. Maintaining a healthy weight is essential to preventing all types of cancers. Having a balanced diet that’s rich in fiber including fruits and vegetables helps to keep your body functioning properly. Regular exercise and stress reduction has also been proven to work wonders for your overall health. When it comes to information, always remember to consider the source. Try not to pay attention to the latest trends and rumors. Always rely on a doctor or
a reputable source for your information and updates. The American Cancer Society, The National Cancer Institute, The Susan G. Komen Foundation and Planned Parenthood are wonderful, reliable resources.
For more information about The Every Woman’s Life program, please call 1-800-520-7006. To take advantage of Planned Parenthood’s services, feel free to visit their website at www.ppsev.org or call them at 757-499-7526. To find out if you qualify for services offered by the Gloucester Mathews Free Clinic call 804-642-9515.The Riverside Nurse, a trusted healthcare advisor, is available 24 hours a day seven days a week to answer your questions and share information about Riverside Walter Reed’s comprehensive Breast Program that includes prevention, diagnosis, and treatment options. You can reach the Riverside Nurse by calling 757-595-6363.
Please remember that Breast Cancer is preventable and treatable. What makes it more dangerous is not having the proper information. You are encouraged to get involved and reach out to these resources that are so desperate to reach out to you. Take responsibility for yourself, your mothers, friends and sisters. Encourage them to get involved too. Always remember that when it comes to Breast Cancer, you are not alone. This disease affects women of all ages and backgrounds. Never be afraid to get involved or ask for help. There are millions of doctors, volunteers and people that want to help you and make Breast cancer a thing of the past.
Submitted by Magi M. Khalil, M.D., Board Certified by the American Board of Medical Oncology and Internal Medicine. Dr. Khalil’s office is located in the Riverside Middle Peninsula Cancer Center, located on the campus of Riverside Walter Reed Hospital, 7544 Medical Drive, Gloucester, Va. For more information or to schedule an appointment, call 804-693-9037.