October is considered Breast Cancer Awareness month, mainly with an aim to increase awareness – among women to get themselves checked, among pharmaceutical companies to invest in drugs for breast cancer and for the government to have more women-friendly policies.
If you think that it’s too much of a fuss being made for a seemingly rare illness, here are some facts. The WHO breast cancer statistics state that there are 4,58,000 deaths from breast cancer and 1.38 million new cases being discovered every year, making breast cancer the most common cancer in women all over the world. The past decades have seen an increase in the number of cases as well, mainly due to increased life expectancy, decreased fertility and urbanization.
While these numbers may be disturbing, the good thing about breast cancer is that it is one of the most curable cancers if detected early. While the high risk age group in western countries is women in their fifties, in India, it is women in their forties, who are mostly Moms with school age kids. These women generally lead very busy lives, with little or no time for themselves. Yes, we are talking about Moms like you and me! To understand things better, here are 10 things about breast cancer that every Mom needs to know.
10 Things About Breast Cancer Every Mom Should Know
1. Just being who you are reduces your risk of breast cancer, yes being a Mom is good for health! Childbirth means that you have extra protection due to your hormones – namely estrogen and progesterone, which help to lower your risk of breast cancer.
2. The earlier you’ve had your first child, the better protection you have against the disease. A woman who has her first child before the age of 20 has half the risk of a woman who has one after the age of 30.
3. Mommies with multiple munchkins, rejoice!! The more the number of kids, the better protection you have. A woman with five kids has half the risk of a woman without any children.
4. Breastfeeding isn’t just good for your baby, it is helpful in breast cancer prevention as well. Experts suggest at least a year of breastfeeding to reap its cancer-preventing benefits.
5. Breast cancer has a genetic component, which is passed from mother to daughter. So if you have a mother or sister who’s been diagnosed with breast cancer, you have double the risk of getting it yourself. Look out for any breast cancer symptoms and remember this risk is in turn passed on to your daughters as well.
6. Getting pregnant and giving birth changes your body, and many Moms are so self conscious about their changed form that they don’t want to even look themselves in the mirror. But the fact remains that self examination is the best way to detect any early changes in your breasts or breast cancer symptoms, which increases your odds of recovery should they be cancerous.
7. Moms are notorious for untimely and binge eating along with not taking the time out to exercise. But these can prove dangerous since being overweight is directly related to an increase in breast cancer risk, especially if you have extra fat around your midsection.
8. The thought of a breast cancer survivor becoming a Mom can sound scary, but it actually is quite possible and can even prove beneficial to the woman. Getting pregnant improves a woman’s survival rate, although being able to breastfeed depends upon the kind of treatment she had for her cancer.
9. Early menarche, or the onset of periods, is considered to be a risk factor for breast cancer. Girls these days are getting their menarche earlier and earlier, and some studies suggest that childhood obesity and chemicals in food may be the culprits. Encourage your daughter to have a healthy lifestyle, especially regarding exercise, since girls are generally not encouraged to be active.
10. While even the smallest sign of a fever or cold in their kids is enough to make Moms rush to the doctor, they ignore even the major symptoms when it comes to their own health. Once you’re past the age of 40, experts advise regular screenings like mammograms or MRIs. You might have to start earlier if you fall in the high risk category.
In short, Mommies, put your oxygen mask on first!! It is easier said than done, but you simply have to make the time for self care – it may even be life saving. For prevention of breast cancer schedule regular checkups, ask around and get a detailed family history, exercise, eat healthy, sleep well and don’t stress. When you do this, you send an important message to your kids, especially your daughters.
After all, as Mao Zedong said, “Women hold up half the sky”.
Don’t forget to print out our FREE breast cancer printable card for spreading awareness among your friends & family!
This post is by Fabida Abdulla, the regular contributor to The Mom Views and blogger at Shocks and Shoes. Fab writes about parenting, baking, shopping and all the little joys in life