Years ago, most women didn’t think about breast cancer unless they had it. You weren’t likely to hear the words “breast cancer” outside of a doctor’s office or hospital. Treatment usually meant a mastectomy an operation to remove one or both breasts.
Nowadays, more people are talking about it at home, on TV and even in church. More women are getting educated and getting mammograms and breast exams.
That’s good, because breast cancer isn’t a cause for shame, and it’s not a death sentence, either. Most women who get it go on to live a full life, especially if it’s treated early. October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and the most important message you’ll hear is the one that can save your life. Get a mammogram!
A mammogram is a special kind of x ray that helps doctors see a tumor long before you or your doctor can feel it. It’s the best way to find breast cancer in the early stages, when you have a better chance of beating it and more options for treating it. In most cases, breast cancer can be treated without removing the breast.
Some experts disagree on whether women should start getting yearly mammograms at age 40 or age 50. You may want to talk to your doctor about when to start. If you have breast cancer in your family, or any other factors that increase the chances that you’ll get breast cancer, sooner may be better.
But remember, most women who get breast cancer have no history of it in their families. Anyone can get breast cancer even men. It’s pretty rare, but it happens. Most men do not need mammograms, but they should still get any lumps checked out.
If you think you don’t need a mammogram, think of all the people who need you. To take care of them, you have to take care of yourself. Call your friend, mother, sister, daughter, aunt or any woman you feel comfortable with, and if you can, go together to get your mammograms. Make it a yearly tradition one that could save your life.
In Arkansas, you can contact the Mexican Consulate ‘Ventanillas de Salud’ Program to get information or received a referral to schedule a mammogram. Call Elvira Aguirre at 501-372-6933, extension 232 fro 9am to 1pm. In northwest Arkansas, contact Susy Hannigan at 479-644-2337, she is a Navigator on Medical Service for patients with breast cancer and cervical cancer.