October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month

October 9, 2013

”Hi. I’m Kathy, the Online Communications Manager at Medela. Six years ago, I felt a lump in my right breast. A few days later, I was at work when I received the call. It was cancer.

While the world was falling apart, everything also came together. The love and support from my dear family and friends was overwhelming in the best way. To this day, I am amazed at the beauty that arose amidst the trauma.

If it’s possible to be fortunate in cancer-world, I was – I found my cancer early. And, although treatment was…let’s just say, challenging, today I am proud to be a survivor.”

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Early detection really is key. Forty percent of breast cancer diagnoses are detected by breast self-exams, which you can perform every month to check for lumps and become more familiar with how your breasts look and feel. That way, you can have a better idea of any changes that occur in your breasts and can alert your doctor right away. How to perform a breast self-exam >> http://bit.ly/17WNnug

It’s true that breastfeeding lowers the risk of breast cancer, but the risk is still there, and women who have breastfed can still get breast cancer. It’s also possible for women to develop breast cancer while they are still nursing. It can be difficult to diagnose breast cancer while breastfeeding because cancerous masses may be mistaken for lactation-related lumps, like those that can develop because of plugged ducts or mastitis. If you notice a “fixed” lump (that doesn’t move), unusual discharge, or persistent pain, it’s always best to talk to your doctor. More information about breastfeeding and breast cancer >> http://bit.ly/19zRrTt

This month, remember to schedule a breast exam with your healthcare professional and remind the women around you to schedule an appointment, too. Just because you don’t have a family history of breast cancer doesn’t mean that you’re not at risk. In fact, only approximately 5-10% of women diagnosed with breast cancer have a family history of the disease. It’s even safe to get a mammogram if you’re pregnant or breastfeeding – however, screening mammograms are not always reliable as your breast tissue is denser while pregnant or breastfeeding.

Not sure where to go? Or, are you uninsured? Search the CDC’s National Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program, which provides access to cancer screening services to women in the United States. Search for a local program near you and spread the word so all women can gain access to crucial screenings and treatment for breast cancer.

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