October has officially been named Breast Cancer Awareness Month. This is a time when women and different groups come together and raise money for research. And this is great. We need more money for research to find better treatment plans and an eventually a cure. In my reality, EVERY month is Breast Cancer Awareness month. Statistics: 1 in 8 women (3%) will develop invasive breast cancer during their lifetime. You need to be proactive in your own breast health.
I am a cancer survivor and my mother died from breast cancer so this issue is near and dear to my heart. I came up with “A Woman’s Bill of Breast Rights” to help women know what to do if and when they are told they have a lump or find one themselves. It is always a scary time and having a plan and knowing your rights can hopefully minimize some of the stress during this difficult time.
A WOMAN’S BILL OF BREAST RIGHTS:
- You have the right to have a mammogram and an ultrasound if you feel a lump or your doctor finds one. Sometimes the radiologist tries to skip the ultrasound. Don’t let him! It can be a crucial element in finding a lump that a mammogram may miss! (This is what happened to my mother.)
- If the Radiologist sees ANYTHING, you need to be evaluated by a Breast Surgeon no matter what you are told.
- You have the right to have a risk assessment and should so you know what your risk factors are, especially if your mother had breast cancer. It is a must! Knowledge is power!
- You need to ask your doctor to test your vitamin D level if he/she has not done so already, even if you have a tan! Knowing your level is CRUCIAL. If your level is low, prescription strength vitamin D3 is needed. Take it! Re-test in 12 weeks. Your levels should ultimately be up around the 50-60 range. Your Primary Care Physician may say a level in the 30’s is acceptable. It is not! Vitamin D protects breast tissue when your level is at peak range. (50-60)
- If you are a very high risk, you have the right to take preventative oral chemo drugs. This is a personal choice.
- Always have someone go with you to an appointment with a breast surgeon or any other specialist. You will be nervous and won’t remember half of what is said. This is normal. You need support during this time. Don’t be afraid to ask for it.