Sunday, October 7, 2007

October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month

In the summer of 1994, our neighbor wore a turban and we learned she had breast cancer. I remember being invited over to their apartment with walls lined with books from floor to ceiling. She and her husband had three children who were crammed into this little apartment.

One day we came home to find her crying in the hallway. "Are you okay?" we asked, concerned. She shook her head no. "It's in my bones," she said.

I've thought about her off and on over the years. The five-year survival rate for breast cancer with metastasis to the bones is 21%. I hope she is still alive; her husband and children deserve that much.

Breast cancer is the leading cause of death in women ages 20-59 while lung cancer is the leading cause of death in women ages 60 and older. Breast cancer diagnosed in the early stage, that is, while it is still localized to the breast has a 96% chance of survival. This is why mammography is so important. There are no early signs or symptoms of breast cancer; even the monthly breast self-exam (BSE) detects cancers at much later stages than radiology.

My annual mammogram is scheduled for this month and I am not looking forward to it. However, the inconvenience and pain of being diagnosed with breast cancer far outweighs the inconvenience and pain of this diagnostic exam.

For more information, please check

No comments: