The Importance of Mammograms in Early Detection and the Fight Against Breast Cancer
Hello and happy October! If you have been a member of the TAOEO community for any length of time, you know just how special this month is for us! October is Breast Cancer Awareness month. I cannot begin to explain how grateful I am to be a thriving cancer survivor; my gratitude is deeper than words can express.
As a breast cancer survivor, October is monumental for many reasons. This year, I celebrate being cancer free for seven years. The photo on the left is a constant reminder to me to live life full of gratitude. Anyone who has gone through breast cancer knows that ringing the ceremonial bell is a celebration of the end of radiation or chemotherapy treatment and signifies you are cancer free.
At TAOEO, we pride ourselves on being a cause driven business that supports organizations in advancing breast cancer research. Since my treatment included daily diffusing uplifting essential oils such as frankincense, lavender, and orange and aromatherapy to balance my emotional well-being, I created the Purposefully Pink products specifically formulated to support those going through cancer and celebrating survivorship. We also donate 20% of our proceeds from our rollerball blends to breast cancer research. Every year, we participate in the annual Dallas Komen for the Cure Walk. This year’s walk is scheduled on October 22nd and Team TAOEO would love your support! There are over 3.8 million breast cancer survivors in the U.S. and by supporting organizations like Susan G. Komen, we can increase that number each year. You can support by joining Team TAOEO at the walk and donating to The Artistry of Essential Oils Warriors.
Since overcoming my own battle with cancer, it has become my life’s work to give back by taking an active role in the global fight against breast cancer. Each year, I feel a renewed sense of urgency to spread awareness about the importance of early detection. In the fight against breast cancer, early detection is our greatest weapon; and mammograms are the most effective way to detect breast cancer in its early stages. Keep reading to learn more about mammograms, who should get them (and how often), and what to expect at your first mammogram.
Early Detection: A Matter of Life & Death
According to Komen.org, it is estimated that over 285,000 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer by the end of this year. Basically, research tells us that 1 in 8 women will be diagnosed in her lifetime. However, according to the American Cancer Society, when breast cancer is detected early and is in the localized stage, the 5-year relative survival rate is 99%. While the number of new breast cancer diagnoses is staggering, the high rate of survival when cancer is detected early is encouraging. I am living proof that a cancer diagnosis, although devastating and life altering, does not have to be a death sentence.
Who Should Get Mammograms?
Mammograms are recommended annually for women aged 40 and older. While there are mixed opinions on breast cancer screening for women younger than 40, research suggests that mammograms are not as effective for women in their 20’s and 30’s because breast tissue tends to be denser in younger women. Regardless of age, dense breast tissue can make it difficult for the mammogram to detect cancer if it is present. However, for women with certain risk factors such as a family history of breast cancer, experiencing signs or symptoms of breast cancer or specific genetic mutations, mammograms are highly recommended before age 40.
While mammograms are the most effective breast cancer screening tool, breast exams are also a great way to detect lumps or masses. Whether done at home or at a physician’s office, performing regular breast exams give you another option if you are younger than 40 and have no risk factors. A self-breast exam can be done lying down or standing. Doctors often recommend hanging an instructional card in your shower to remind you when and how to give yourself a breast exam. Contact your doctor if you feel any unusual lumps or knots in your breast tissue or near your underarm.
Your First Mammogram
It is perfectly normal and quite common to be nervous about getting a mammogram for the first time. Thankfully, the screening typically takes less than 30 minutes. If you are unsure of where to go for a mammogram, contact your primary care physician for a referral. You can also reach out to local mammography clinics or radiology and imaging centers. If you plan to use insurance to cover the cost of your mammogram, contact your insurance provider to ensure that mammography is an included benefit on your insurance plan and that the clinic or center of your choice is in network.
If you have not been directly impacted by cancer, chances are you know someone who has. Early detection can save lives and it is up to us to spread awareness. If you have not scheduled your first mammogram, I hope reading this has inspired you to schedule it today! It’s normal to be afraid or nervous, but you will not regret taking this important step for your health.
One way to help mitigate feelings of fear or anxiety is to make your mammogram a celebration! Reach out to family members, friends or colleagues and ask them to join you! If they have not had mammograms or are due for their annual screening, you can try to schedule appointments together and celebrate with brunch and Mimosas or a fun activity afterwards! Call it a Mammogram Girlfriend's party.
Let us all work together so that one day, no one has to hear the words, "you have breast cancer."