Breast Cancer Awareness month is once again upon us and this year instead of generating awareness we want Women of Australia to take action and be more proactive with their health.
With the constant challenges of 2020 our health has taken an even greater backseat. Between working from home, home-schooling, domestic demands and wanting to avoid COVID-19 hotspots, breast checks have unfortunately fallen by the wayside.
And whilst quarantine may have provided us with an opportunity for more self-care (face masks anyone!) the ultimate form of self-care is self-checking.
Cancer doesn’t care about COVID, it doesn’t take holidays, it doesn’t discriminate and most importantly it doesn’t wait.
Why not use this additional time at home to get familiar with your breasts, become your own breast friend and complete a quick and easy self-check? (Please refer to our how-to self-check guide for assistance)
Understanding not only how to check your breasts, but what exactly to look for is imperative so you can recognise changes, lumps and unusual bumps. Also, important to note that Breast Cancer doesn’t always have to be just a lump – it could be redness or nipple changes anything that is unusual and persistent always needs to be professionally checked. Always.
Whilst knowing the symptoms is great, taking action is paramount – if you see something, feel something or sense something – say something, book a Doctor’s appointment and tell your sisters, girlfriends and Mother to do the same. Awareness is nothing without action!
Most importantly, ensure that you are having regular screenings for those in the high-risk category or annual screenings by 50 if you are considered average risk. An early diagnosis is indicative of a better long-term outcome, the sooner you are diagnosed the sooner you can complete treatment. Don’t wait, don’t delay, complete a self-check and seek help TODAY!
We spoke to the incredible Dr. Robert Blum Clinical Director of both the Bendigo Health Oncology Unit and the Loddon Mallee Integrated Cancer Services who debunked some common myths surrounding Breast Cancer. So, listen up ladies, because you are going to want to hear this!
“A Significant Majority of Patients Diagnosed with Cancer Will Be Long Term Survivors”
I think one of the most damaging myths about cancer in the general community is that people don’t realise that a large majority of people diagnosed with cancer will be long term survivors. Survival rates for cancer continue to improve which is aided by the vast array of medical breakthroughs, new technology and better participation in screening programs. Early detection results in better survival rates and often less treatment is required. This is why regular breast checks and screenings are critical. Your breast health is important regardless of your age, ensuring an early diagnosis will subsequently lead to a better long-term outcome.
“Cancer Doesn’t Discriminate”
The other myth that is extremely prevalent and often dangerous is that breast cancer only effects older or menopausal/ post-menopausal women and that is simply not the case. Younger women can and do get breast cancer – as do males. Regardless of your age or your family history you need to be proactive and vigilant with your breast health.
“Breast Cancer Doesn’t Always Have to Be a Lump”
Whilst breast cancer is one of the better cancers in turns of advocacy and awareness it is important to note that symptoms do vary and it doesn’t necessarily have to be a lump. It can be any persistent and progressive condition such as nipple changes including discharge, dimpling, change in breast shape or distortion, thickening or a rash. In addition, breast tissue goes all the way up to your underarms and around your collarbone so any changes there should also be looked at professionally.
Cancer & COVID
Obviously, with COVID-19 still present in our community we understand that this is another barrier between getting tested and women presenting. Hospitals are seen by some as unsafe or as “COVID clusters” which is simply not the case. We are of course taking all the necessary precautions – sanitising regularly, hand hygiene, social distancing and mask wearing are all in place and we are committed to keeping you safe.
Also, important to note that Breast Cancer surgery is still a priority so if you get diagnosed rest assured you will get timely treatment Regardless of COVID-19 DO NOT WAIT! If you feel something, sense something or see something – SAY SOMETHING.
Thank you for visiting Pink Hope! Keep reading our blog for more articles about breast and ovarian cancer, and find out how to volunteer, support or donate to Pink Hope in the future. Pink Hope is a preventative health hub providing essential tools for assessing, managing and reducing your risk of breast and ovarian cancer, as well as providing personalised support for at-risk women.