I love breast cancer awareness month. As a breast cancer oncologist, it gives me the opportunity to spread the message of how important early detection is to improve the success of breast cancer treatment. I am regularly surprised by the number of women who do not have a mammogram or who do it every two years when they remember it. We know that the women who participate in the annual screening mammography are the patients most likely to detect their cancer in the early stages and, subsequently, obtain the best results.
Except when they do not
Imagine that you have been doing mammograms faithfully like a clock every year. You are examined in a high-risk clinic with an MRI of the breast or one of the other advanced tools available. They performed genetic tests based on their family history, and it turned out normal. And three months after your mammogram, you feel a mass in your chest. You call your doctor Ultrasound. Biopsy. CANCER. Unfortunately, the type of cancer that appears in this scenario is high risk. He needs chemotherapy, surgery, radiation. And after all that treatment, your cancer will still have a significant risk of reappearing or spreading.
Imagine that your cancer was detected early. Stage 1. You were the lucky one. You underwent surgery, without radiation, without chemotherapy. You just had to take a pill. You had a good cancer Years later after breast cancer was just an idea, a back pain that did not go away turned out to be metastatic breast cancer. Cancer has returned to show its ugly face after all those years. Suddenly, your luck seems to fail.
Imagine that at age 32, long before mammography is part of your vocabulary or insurance coverage, your blood test shows some abnormalities. It is checked again and does not show changes. You go for tomographies. A “little something” is in your liver. Then, a biopsy and suddenly have metastatic breast cancer. Before it was supposed that breast cancer should happen. Too early in life for early detection.
Imagine being standing next to a grocery store wearing pink socks, pink scarves and pink coffee cups that encourage you to “celebrate the women in your life” can make you cry if your wife died of breast cancer last March. .
Each day, 113 people die of metastatic breast cancer. For people living with metastatic breast cancer, cute slogans can be painful. “Fight like a girl” seems to minimize your experience when you fight for your life. “Early detection saves lives” is a painful message when you did everything right and still have metastatic disease. “Save Second Base”, jokes and cookies that look like breasts do not feel very funny when they can not be cured. A delicate pink ribbon can be embarrassing when you’re a man diagnosed with breast cancer.
This October, I ask you to share the early detection message. To celebrate all the progress, we have treated and understood breast cancer. But know that there is still no cure for everyone. And, as in much of modern life, we should try to understand that each of us has a different experience. Some cancer survivors want to celebrate. Some want to make jokes. Others want to forget. Others simply can not forget because the disease does not allow them. Take the time to know the experience of those in your life.
As for me? You will find me wearing a pink ribbon and encouraging screening mammograms. You will find me giving hugs to the leading and discouraging clinical trials for people with advanced cancer. You will find me supporting better access to genetic testing so we can find more “cautious” (before cancer arrives). You will find me donating my resources to support early and metastatic breast cancer research. You will find me trying to create an October for everyone.
I invite you to get your awesome t-shirt here, and be prepared for the moment, any suggestions feel free to write back, love to all.
New York. Miami / UK Former Minfullness and Entrepreneur, School Graduate. Mother of 3. Now Lifestyle Cook. Fitness Equipment Fanatic. Healthy Living and Fitness Enthusiast