Not every breast cancer patient has graying hair and wrinkles. Mammograms used to be 'an older woman's thing' and far removed from the daily concerns of young women. Sadly, even with the more modern approaches to prevention, young women as young as twenty are diagnosed with breast cancer and the number is on the rise.
I can still hear those words softly echoing in my heart every three months as I routinely administer a self breast examination. I remember my best friends' mother recanting that very same phrase as she struggled through chemo, radiation and a partial mastectomy as a result of her diagnosis with Stage III breast cancer.
A cancer diagnosis is always a shock. Even when we are taking extra steps because it runs in the family, there is always the hope that we won't get it. Even though breast cancer survival rates are high, there is no guarantee. For some it is easier to just ignore the possibility of breast cancer and let the nurse or doctor check us at our yearly appointment. Yet others check daily or monthly without fail because we know that our risk is higher or we are just that considered about it.
Cancer is a word that strikes fear into the hearts and minds of most people, and for very good reasons. Cancer describes the erratic growth and multiplication of cells growing in a particular area of the body and is a disease that is often fatal. Breast cancer is the most common form of cancer in women and chances are that if your mom had breast cancer, you are at greater risk of contracting it too. Should you panic? Definitely not, although making time for regular medical checkups and learning how to do self-exams are good ideas.
I will never forget where I was when my dad told my sister and I that mom had breast cancer. I liked to crawl out onto the porch roof from my bedroom window and I was sitting on the hot roof tiles and he was leaning out to talk to me. When it's your mom who has breast cancer your world stands still.