Today’s blog is from our Social Media Coordinator Sara Howard.
This is my story…
Life Experience Can Change Everything…
This year’s Breast Cancer Awareness month has seemed to evoke new emotion in me.
I have not had breast cancer yet, but grew up with a Grandmother who had and kicked its booty.
My Grandmother Irene was one of two grandparents I had the pleasure of knowing and loving. Irene was a lady that faced a unique life and broke the status-quo during a time when women did not do that! (I.E. the time of the 50’s and 60’s) When presented with challenges she faced them head on and didn’t let others tell her what to do. I think this is where my Mom gets her drive and in turn I get it as well. Grandma truly was an inspiration.
My Grandmother died while I was in middle school. I regret not knowing her better and visiting her more as I know I missed out on life lessons from her. Luckily, I do have many memories of her that bring a smile to my face.
One of these memories I’m lucky enough to be able to recreate anytime I want. Almost every week my Grandmother would make my brother and me mac and cheese from scratch. Even when she could hardly see she still found a way and the great taste never changed. To this day I have only been able to make it taste the way hers did once! Fortunately, besides photos this will be one thing my kids will get to experience one day.
Another memory I have of her has to do with this month. She was a fighter! When it came to her health and the potential of death my Grandmother went down with guns blazing. She fired hospice twice (can you imagine?) and lived her life the way she wanted to within reason. Irene was diagnosed with breast cancer later in life. She won her battle and had a mastectomy. She did not have an implant put in, but had something else…
“Grandma you know your boob is on the dresser?” I grew up knowing her as the lady with the boob on the dresser and…Yes I walked around her home asking her that. She laughed at me because I was innocent and being funny. This never phased me and now I look at it as a pure sign of strength.
I share her story because for me the idea, concept, and thought of getting breast cancer takes on a whole new meaning. Breast cancer is known to skip a generation and even though she got it later in life does not mean I won’t. This year I have thought more and more about my future and what the month is about. October is dedicated to bringing awareness to breast cancer and finding a cure.
It’s observed that testing and mammogram screenings for breast cancer begin for women when they are 40. If you are younger than 40, you should perform monthly self-breast exams. This is great, but I think there should be more done for prevention. All women, no matter their age, need to pay attention to their bodies.
More than ever women in their 20’s and 30’s are getting breast cancer. The only way they find out is through exams. If you have fibrocystic breasts it can be more difficult to tell if you have a lump vs. a cyst vs. it just being normal. Unfortunately some women won’t seek an opinion until they have symptoms. Symptoms that are often experienced are a clear or bloody liquid coming out of the nipple, changes in the way your breast and/or nipple looks, and feels.
Since my grandmother had breast cancer, I know my risk of getting it is higher. I plan to prevent it any way possible and one of those ways is to be tested for the gene. You can be tested for the breast cancer gene as well as some other cancerous genes or genes that present future concern for you (Such as Alzheimer’s). A test like this can also tell you your percentage of having the cancer. Some may ask or say, “Why would you want to do that to yourself at a young age?”. Why would you want to know about something that could happen in your future and ruin or present, or why would you want to know about something you have no control over?
I don’t see knowledge as something bad or setting yourself up for an upsetting future. I see getting gene testing done as potentially saving your life. Once you know what you may face you can control what will happen. You can change the way you live your life by becoming healthier, learn as much as you can about what you may face so you can be prepared for it, or have preventative surgery. As my Mom says, “Don’t behave like an ostrich with your head in the sand.”
Additionally, mammograms should start at a younger age for women who are at a higher risk for breast cancer.
If you had the ability to prevent heartache, pain, and sadness down the road why wouldn’t you?
Bringing awareness to preventative steps for the younger generation in addition to what is already done can change the futures of so many and provide a more aware and educated future.
I’m not sharing my grandmother’s story or my thoughts to change your views or to say what should and shouldn’t be done. I’m sharing them to bring light to a possibility that could help other 20 and 30 year olds like me.