Every day we make promises, but how many of them can save your life and the lives of the people you love? More than 6,000 African American women died from breast cancer in 2009. You may be able to lower that number by making a few simple promises.
Can you promise to take care of your body? Lower your alcohol intake? A healthy diet and regular exercise can lower your risk of breast cancer. It’s natural to gain weight as we get older, but women who have gained more than 20 pounds since the age of 18 have an increased chance of developing postmenopausal breast cancer. Losing that weight will not only lower your risk, but it can make you feel better about yourself. It’s not about being model-skinny — it’s about being healthy.
Do you know what’s normal for you? Being familiar with your body may help you see or feel changes in your breast. If you notice any of the warning signs of breast cancer listed below, see your health care provider right away.
• Lump, hard knot or thickening
• Swelling, warmth, redness or darkening
• Change in the size or shape of the breast
• Dimpling or puckering of the skin
• Itchy, scaly sore or rash on the nipple
• Pulling in of your nipple or other parts of the breast
• Nipple discharge that starts suddenly
• New pain in one spot that doesn’t go away
Clinical breast exams are recommended at least every three years beginning at age 20 and every year after age 40. Are you getting yours? Can you promise to get your mammogram? Komen for the Cure recommends getting them annually once you turn 40. Most insurance plans cover them, but if you don’t have insurance there are options out there.
Visit www.komen.org to find a local Komen Affiliate in your area who may be able to help. Or dial 1-877 GO KOMEN (1-877-465-6636) to find low cost options in your area.
Can you promise to educate yourself? There are so many myths about the causes of breast cancer. Most people think it’s hereditary, but many new cases involve women with no family history of breast cancer. And some people think that women in their 20s and 30s are not at risk, but African-American women are more likely than other races or ethnicities to develop breast cancer at a younger age.
Remember, every 69 seconds, somewhere in the world, a woman dies of breast cancer. The global leader of the breast cancer movement was founded when Nancy Brinker promised her sister Susan G. Komen that she would end breast cancer forever. What will you promise?
Visit www.circleofpromise.org to learn what you can do to end breast cancer.
From The Susan G. Komen for the Cure® Circle of Promise.