Be clever, people!

If you haven't checked lately, wouldn't today be a good time to do your monthly self breast exam?

Here's an interesting note: the female relatives (daughters, sisters) of a woman diagnosed with breast cancer should begin having yearly mammograms or other screening 10 YEARS before the age of the woman's diagnosis. For Emma and Katie, that means they will start having these screenings at 24, and my sisters should have theirs as soon as possible (they are both nursing babies at the moment, and the recommendation is to wait 3-6 months after terminating nursing). I was scheduled to begin mine at 35, which I thought seemed proactive of my doctor as I thought the age to start was 40. Of course, we all know I found a lump before I ever had a mammogram.

The good news of finding cancer on a mammogram is that the cancer could be found at an earlier stage - perhaps DCIS (ductal carcinoma in situ - cancer still in the milk ducts) instead of Invasive Ductal Carcinoma (the cancer after it has grown enough to leave the duct). DCIS is considered a stage 0 cancer...very treatable.

Lastly, don't be so afraid to find a lump that you don't even check, and don't be too busy to check. Some months, I would feel that fear, or I would forget. I promise to remind people myself, as it is a subject more on my mind than on most minds, I would expect! 8 out of 10 breast lumps that are removed are benign, or non-cancerous. Small lumps (under 2 cm) that have not spread to the lymph nodes can still be considered Stage 1 cancer and there are excellent survival rates for that.

Be clever... check today!

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