You can always tell when October is at the doorstep. The leaves begin to change to yellow, red and orange, or have long fallen, depending on your physical location. Pumpkins, spiders and bats make an appearance at every retail outlet, and everything else turns pink.
In case you don’t already know, October is Breast Cancer Awareness month. It’s a 31-day celebration of how far we have come in saving lives; 31 days to educate us all about prevention, about what breast cancer is, and is not. It is but one brief month to remind the women in your life that early detection does save lives. And, it’s a time to remember those who fought their battle with courage to whatever end.
Feeling Pink? Here are five little things you can do to have a big impact on breast cancer.
- Know Your Breasts. Don’t be shy, conduct self breast exams. You may not understand everything there is to know about biology, but you do know what is familiar and what isn’t. If you feel a mass or lump, or see a change in your breasts, visit your doctor immediately. While most breast changes are not cancer, it is extremely important to diagnose breast cancer early. Remember, when breast cancer is found early, the 5-year survival rate is 98 percent.
- Grin and Bare it. Having regular breast check-ups means you are partnering with your health care providers to stay healthy. Clinical check- ups should start at age 20 and be conducted every three years. If you have a strong family history of breast cancer, you may need to have clinical check-ups more often. At age 40, screening mammograms should start and be done regularly every two years for women at average risk of breast cancer, and more often if your risk is higher. Consult your health care provider if you have questions about how often these tests should be done, and what’s right for you.
- Put On Those Dancing Shoes. Regular exercise (four or more hours a week) has a positive effect on breast cancer risk for most women. Exercising decreases hormone levels and helps lower your risk (by 44 percent in some studies).