Two weeks ago I signed up to walk in the Breast Cancer 3 Day event in Philadelphia this coming September. It is something I have always wanted to do, but year after year the timing of the walk did not work in my favor. So this year, despite not having someone currently battling the disease to walk for (and gratefully so), I eagerly signed up.
Then, last week, my friend Amanda was diagnosed with Stage 3 breast cancer. Fate can be vicious that way.
Upon hearing her diagnosis, a few of my girlfriends mentioned that they were due for a mammogram. Two of them had been putting it off for a while. For a very long while. Not just because mammograms are uncomfortable, but also because they were concerned about the risks associated with radiation from the test.
Amanda is 32, which tells you everything you should need to know about the importance of self-exams. She was not due to have her first mammogram for eight more years, at the very earliest. Last year another friend of mine found her lump just a few weeks after getting her annual mammogam. It was located up near the armpit in a spot that is not covered by mammography.
While regular self-exams are incredibly important, mammography also saves thousands of lives each year. One recent study from a Harvard Medical School Professor of Surgery found that women under age 50 would benefit tremendously from greater screening compliance. Younger women, it seems, tend to have faster growing tumors. This particular study also confirms that regular mammography screening is still the best way to significantly reduce breast cancer deaths.
Let’s get women (like myself) who fear that annual radiation to the breasts might actually do more harm than good for a moment. Research shows that women tend to overestimate the amount of radiation used during mammography. However if you are still concerned, rather than skipping your annual test, look for a facility that offers digital mammography. The radiation dose associated with digital mammography is significantly lower (averaging 22% lower) than that of conventional film mammography, especially for women with larger and denser breasts.
The moral of this story is:
- Do regular self-exams starting at a young age and continuing consistently throughout the remainder of your life.
- Get your annual mammogram. The results are worth the discomfort. And if are concerned about radiation, have your test done at a facility that does digital imaging.
Amanda’s friends are working to help raise funds, awareness, and support for this brave mom of two young girls. If you would like to make a donation, please go to: http://www.youcaring.com/medical-fundraiser/amanda-s-army/. There are also items for sale at CafePress at http://bit.ly/amandasarmy. Profits from the sale of the items and using the affiliate link will go directly to Amanda.
Please join #AmandasArmy as we help our friend in her fight against breast cancer.