Its October and like every year, there’s going to be a lot of talk about breast cancer. It’s likely that each of you will come across something pink- a fundraiser walk, an awareness talk or at-least someone wearing a pink ribbon. When you do, be careful not to make these common wrong assumptions.
Mistake 1: "It’s Not For Me”
Quoting a woman who neglected a lump for 5 months "I helped organise an awareness and screening camp for our women’s’ group 3 months ago, but I didn’t think I needed any checking” Everyone assumes breast cancer is something that happens to someone else, but the truth is it can happen to anyone.
Mistake 2: “It was found in a FREE camp- it can't be anything serious”
When you finds an abnormality on a free mammogram, women assume it can’t be cancer because they “feel alright.” The whole idea is to find cancers before they have a chance to make you sick. Although most things we pick up are not cancers, make sure you undergo a complete diagnosis for whatever is found.
Mistake 3: “I’ll get to it at some point”
Women often participate in these drives and camps in the spirit of a “fun group activity”
This is a different mindset from a woman who notices a lump and goes in all seriousness for a doctor visit. When what was supposed to be “just a Pinktober event” reveals something that needs attention, women procrastinate taking the next step.
Mistake 4: Misreading the message altogether
The message of breast cancer awareness is read very differently by different women. Every so often someone hears "Oh my god, I hear all this talk and now I'm afraid I will get it” The actionable part of the message received should be: "To lower my breast cancer risk, I’m going to start exercising” "If I were to get it, I’d rather it's detected early - I’ll go for annual breast exams with a doctor; and mammograms as advised.”
Mistake 5: Forget everything after October
Much like new year resolutions, women forget about the resolutions made in October a few months later. There’s a lot to do once October is over. If you’re over 40, note the last date of your mammogram and get the next one at a year from that date. Keep monthly self breast exams incorporated into your routine as “good habits.” Stay willing to discuss the topic with friends and family you meet. Lend a helping hand to someone who will deal with breast cancer this year.