Guest Author - Cynthia Parker
As I am sure most of you are aware, October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. While you may not be able to walk in one of the Breast Cancer fundraisers held all over the nation or even donate funds to the cause, most of us – the women, at least – own something pink. When you wear it, remember all the women who have died – and more importantly, all the women who have survived – breast cancer. Talk to a friend about scheduling a doctor’s exam. Encourage an elderly female family member to schedule a mammogram. Stress to your daughter the importance of monthly self-examinations. Don’t allow embarrassment to deter you from educating those you love about breast cancer and the necessity to use the tools of early detection.
Take a moment to stop by Ford’s Virtual Quilt where many survivors are honored and those who succumbed to the disease are remembered. This quilt is full of the joy, triumphs, and pain of those who have experienced breast cancer, whether first-hand or through a loved one. Become a “Warrior in Pink.”
Visit the site for the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation, where “Passionately Pink for the Cure” is being promoted. Find out how you can be a part of this program established in honor of its namesake. Wear pink and promote awareness of a cause that effects us all!
I have a strong, courageous friend who is an 8-year survivor of breast cancer. She fought a long, hard battle and she is making the most of every moment of her life, reveling in her victory. But that does not mean that she has put her experience to the back of her mind! She is very careful to continue using a woman’s three most important tools of detection: self-exams, doctor’s exams, and mammograms.
Another courageous woman with whom I work is currently undergoing treatment. She has never given up – not for one second. Her attitude and her outlook have caused others to rally around her in her fight. Attitude is a very strong motivator and an exceptional tool in the fight against disease.
My own aunt had breast cancer years ago. She survived when treatments were not as advanced as they are today. She lived in an era where it was “hush-hush” to talk about the breasts or discuss such topics as breast exams with anyone except your doctor. She became a “woman ahead of her time” as she talked with her friends about the importance of self-exams, doctor’s visits and mammograms – in her living room, in the grocery store, on the sidewalk. There is nothing like living through the experience to make you a true believer.
I must admit that I was raised that such topics were “sensitive.” Sensitivity be damned, if it means saving the life of another woman! The time to view such topics as sensitive it long past. I remind my friends of the importance of self-exams. I send them pads of Post-its with pink ribbons on them. I give them pens promoting Breast Cancer Awareness Month. I apologize for making anyone uncomfortable, but I do not hold back in my conversations.
If you love a woman – your mother, sister, daughter, cousin, aunt, grandmother, wife or girlfriend – then put aside any hesitation and stress to them the importance of the three tools of early detection of breast cancer. Don’t just assume that they know or that they already use them – TALK to them. We are past the age of finding out too late – let’s embrace the age of working towards making every woman a survivor!