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Understanding Breast Cancer

(c) 2002 Lori Peterson

Breast cancer is the most common form of cancer in women (besides skin cancer).  It is the second leading cause of death in all women.  Therefore, it is important for women to understand their bodies and learn the facts.
Here's some basic things you need to know:
1.Although having a family history of breast cancer increases your risk of breast cancer, 70% of women diagnosed with breast cancer DO NOT have a family history.
2.Other factors include:  never having having children, having your first child after age 30.  Having prior radiation treatment for Hodgkin's disease also puts a woman at risk.
3.Breast cancer can not be prevented, but the drug Tamoxifen was shown to reduce cancer risk in high-risk women.
4.Breast cancer incidence increases with age.  The average of diagnoses is 64, however women under 40 do get breast cancer.
5.It is important for all women to perform monthly self-exams and find out what is normal for your bodies.

What should you do if you find a lump?
If you find a lump, dimpling of the breast, discharge from the nipple, or any abnormality - schedule an appointment with your doctor immediately! 
Most lumps are not cancer, but you'll never know unless you get it checked out.
Breast cancer can be treated successfully if it is found early. 
Do not let fear of cancer keep you from being be aggressive about seeking medical treatment. 
Do not be afraid to question your doctor or to speak up if you feel the doctor is not meeting your needs.
What to do if you are diagnosed.
Being diagnosed with breast cancer is frightening, scary, and challenging.  It is indeed a life-altering experience.  The diagnosis is indeed a grim reminder that we as humans are mortal and life is indeed a gift and a blessing.  However, remember diagnosis is the the worst part of the cancer ordeal. 
Breast cancer is being actively studies by scientists and doctors.  New treatment options are becoming available.  CANCER IS NOT A DEATH SENTENCE.  You can beat breast cancer!!!!  Most women react with fear, anger, and depression when they are diagnosed.  It is important to redirect your energies on fighting the disease and becoming informed.  Remember Knowledge Is Power.  Here's some tips:
1.Pray and pray often.  God is the only way to get through an illness.
2.Let family friends help.  They want to help you.
3.Express your feelings with a close friend.  You'll feel better once you vent.
4.Prepare a list of questions before you go to the doctor
5.Always take a friend to the doctor with you.  You may forget what the doctors tell you. 
6.Think of chemotherapy and radiation as your friends.  These are tools to kill the cancer.
7.Chemotherapy treatments have improved.  There are medications to stop nausea, vomiting and fatigue.
8.If your scared about hair loss, remember, the hair always grows back, sometimes the hair never comes out, and wigs are designed to be realistic.

And Remember:
Love Yourself and Your Family By Getting Regular Check-Ups, Performing Self Exams, and Continuing to Fight Cancer if you are Diagnosed.