Last year around this time, I shared a story about a dear friend who was diagnosed with breast cancer and was undergoing chemotherapy and radiation. She had postponed her annual mammogram because of her busy schedule, and the cancer wasn’t discovered until she made time for her exam.
I’m delighted to report that this year, my friend is cancer-free, and she is easing back into her new normal. Thankfully, she has a sharper awareness of the fragility of life, and she strives to approach each day with vibrancy, positivity and enthusiasm!
Over the last few months, we learned that former Presidential candidate, Senator Amy Klobuchar, (D-Minnesota), was also diagnosed with breast cancer. She, too, put off her mammogram during COVID-19 in 2020, and she found out she had breast cancer much like my friend, later rather than sooner. Sen. Klobuchar, also, successfully completed her cancer treatments, and she has since spoken freely to media encouraging women and men to be proactive about getting annual mammograms, because early detection is so important when treating this disease.
October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and knowing mammograms provide early detection of breast cancer in seniors, I encourage all aging adults to schedule a mammogram.
Those at greatest risk for breast cancer are primarily women, but men can also develop breast cancer. It’s just not as prevalent. Genetics, family history, breast density and chest radiation treatments (for separate conditions, or incidents of cancer), are known risk factors that are beyond our control.
Other risk factors for breast cancer include:
- Women who gave birth to their first child before age 30 are at lower risk.
- Post-menopausal women who use hormone replacement therapy with estrogen and progesterone have an increased risk of breast cancer.
- Women who drink two or more alcoholic beverages a day are at 1-1 ½ time’s greater risk than women who do not drink.
- Women who are overweight or obese are more susceptible to the disease.
Self exams should be a regular regiment for women, because we can detect certain physical changes through sight and touch. Please see your doctor immediately if you notice:
- A lump or thickening in or around the breast and underarm area
- A change in the size or shape of the breast
- A noticeable nipple discharge (not including lactation)
- A nipple that turns inward
- A change in the color or feel of the skin on or near the breast or underarm area
The American Cancer Society recommends women between the ages of 45-54, have an annual mammogram. If you are age 55+, and in good physical health, a mammogram might only be needed every-other year, if you have fewer risk factors. However, each woman and situation is unique. Perhaps, if my friend had not postponed her mammogram, the cancer would’ve been detected and treated sooner, and she wouldn’t have suffered the physical, mental and emotional stress that she endured.
If breast cancer is detected, or if there are reasons for further examinations, ultrasounds, MRI scans, experimental breast imaging, biopsy and other tests may be recommended, as well as treatment options like radiation and chemotherapy. Additionally, research and clinical trials continue throughout the United States and the world to discover new, successful ways to treat breast cancer.
If you know a senior who has been diagnosed with breast cancer, a compassionate caregiver provides a variety of in-home care services, such as light housekeeping, meal planning & preparation, and transportation assistance to and from appointments. I gladly offer a FREE CONSULTATION to discuss specific needs and ways our caregivers can make life easier. I also have numerous resources that can help when breast cancer invades your family. It’s not only a disease that affects the person with the diagnosis, but it deeply affects everyone who loves them.
We, at Home Helpers® Clearwater, are honored to have received the Home Care Pulse – Best of Home Care® Provider of Choice Award for the fifth consecutive year: 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020 & 2021. We proudly serve male and female seniors in Clearwater, Dunedin, Palm Harbor, Safety Harbor, Tarpon Springs, Holiday, New Port Richey, Trinity, Port Richey, Hudson and surrounding areas. Home Helpers®…we are Making Life Easier℠ 727.942.2539
American Cancer Society