MBC Advocacy: Let’s Give Them Something to Talk About
Have you ever seen the movie Back to the Future? It is about a scientist who builds a time machine inside a car and sends his young friend back in time. Have you ever wished you could go back to the past and change things?
For me, I would go back about 6 months before my advanced breast cancer diagnosis. I would go back to when I was experiencing symptoms of breast cancer, but I ignored them.
Ignoring the symptoms of breast cancer
Symptoms like the sharp pain in my armpit that I figured was just my deodorant. So, I changed my deodorant to a "natural" one. Or when I had an itchy nipple, which makes me frustrated that I ignored this one because it was so uncomfortable.
I reflect now and realize I was uneducated about the signs and symptoms of breast cancer. Doctors told me to get my yearly exams and feel for lumps, but what about the other symptoms of breast cancer? Where is the information about those things?
Going for my routine breast exams
I was always on time with my yearly breast exams and my self-exams. I was no stranger to mammograms because I have very dense breasts, and I even had benign cysts pop up a few times, but it wasn't enough.
There needs to be more awareness
Now that I am in the middle of this crazy cancer life, I realize what the problem was back then, and it is still a major problem today. There's not enough awareness, information, and guidance for people about what to be on the lookout for regarding the risks of breast cancer.
I wonder why I never heard of metastatic breast cancer before my diagnosis. Why is breast cancer not widely discussed with teens at school in their health classes, and why are there no commercials on television explaining what to look for?
Ways to advocate for breast cancer
This lack of awareness is why breast cancer advocacy is so important. Anyone can be a breast cancer advocate. You have to speak up and share information. Here are some ways to do this.
This is probably the top way to extend awareness for breast cancer. You can share your story. But if you are uncomfortable with that, you can repost someone else's story. You can share pictures of what symptoms to look out for and reminders to do home self-checks.
Groups and organizations
Join a trusted breast cancer organization or support group that participates in activities that spread awareness. Get involved and ask how you can help.
Partner with your provider
Ask your doctor's office if you can print out pamphlets or flyers with breast cancer information and put them around the office.
Have discussions with family and friends
Talk to your family and friends. While some might feel uncomfortable doing this, sharing your experiences and helpful information regarding breast cancer screening could save a life.
We need to be vocal about advanced breast cancer
We need to talk about breast cancer. Maybe using our voices can help and even save a life. Talk about symptoms and how to do home self-exams. Talk about what it's like to have cancer. Talk about mammograms. Talk until you can't talk anymore. Make something good come from having advanced breast cancer.
What are some ways you can help spread awareness?
Do you have a safe space where others understand what you are going through?