Tolulope was only 27 when she felt a slight burning sensation in her right breast. She initially neglected to do anything hoping the burning sensation was temporary and would ease off, after all, she was young, active, and healthy, and cancer was the least of her worries. Wasn’t cancer for old people?
Two weeks after, the burning had still not gone away, instead had metamorphosed to pain. She booked an appointment to see a gynecologist who immediately scheduled her for a biopsy. The results came back positive for stage two estrogen positive breast cancer and in her own words, “I felt like my life had taken a downward spiral”.
Just like Tolulope, we most often cannot control the life-altering moments that come our way, but having the right knowledge, is having the right answer and most always, the way to overcome.
According to the world health organization, breast cancer is the most common cancer in women both in developed and developing countries where the majority of cases are diagnosed in late stages, and about 1 in 8 women would be diagnosed of cancer in their lifetime.
In honor of the breast cancer awareness month, and because we care about you and always want you to ‘live well’, we have come up with a helpful guide on the preventive measures every woman should be aware of.
FIND OUT YOUR FAMILY HISTORY
You may be at risk if you have a mother, sister or daughter who developed breast or ovarian cancer as you may have inherited a gene mutation that would increase your risk. A doctor or genetic counselor can help you understand your family history of the disease.
KEEP YOUR WEIGHT IN CHECK
Maintaining a healthy weight is not just an important goal for everyone, but a way of reducing the risk of many ailments including breast cancer.
BE PHYSICALLY ACTIVE
A new study has made surprising findings that even women within a normal weight range may have an increased risk of breast cancer if they have high body fat levels. By this, the importance of regular exercises cannot be overemphasized as women who are active at least 30 minutes a day have a reduced risk. So dedicate more time to exercises even if it’s just a long walk.
A HEALTHY CONSUMPTION LIFESTYLE:
Our bodies contain similar nutrients to the food we eat, therefore depending on what kind of food we are consuming and the contents of that food, we are affecting our nutrient levels and overall, our health. A healthy diet in this context encompasses eating a lot of fruits and vegetables, staying away from smoking, moderating or cutting down on the intake of alcohol and increasing the quantity of water consumed daily. According to experts, the body needs about 3 liters of water to function daily.
AVOID HORMONES AND BIRTH CONTROL PILLS AFTER AGE 35
While women on birth control pills have a slightly increased risk of breast cancer, the risk of a stroke and a heart attack is also increased on the pill and particularly if a woman is above the age of 35 and she smokes.
SCREEN SCREEN SCREEN!
Breast cancer screening means checking a woman’s breast for cancer before there are any signs and symptoms of the disease. Although breast cancer screening cannot prevent breast cancer, it can help find out about the disease while it is still early and can easily be treated. A mammogram, a Breast magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and a breast self-exam are the ways of checking for lumps, change in skin texture and unusual change in breast size. While mammograms and MRIs are recommended yearly for women, 40 and above, self-exams can be done earlier and in the comfort of the home. Experts opine that there is a 99% survival rate for early detected cases.
The breast cancer awareness month is marked across continents and is a recognition of the fact that a woman’s breasts change with age. It is aimed at emphasizing the importance of preventive measures and providing information to as many people as possible.