Fighting back

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The month of October wasn’t only for frights and scares but also served as breast cancer awareness month. The most common type of breast cancer is Ductal Carcinoma, an uncontrolled growth of cells within the breast ducts that can be invasive if not correctly treated when discovered. A symptom of Ductal Carcinoma is breast pain or bloody discharge.

Fortunately, in my family, extended included, no one has been diagnosed with breast cancer. Growing up, I knew an older lady who lived right across the street from me. She was the sweetest lady possibly. She was always bringing my family cookies or cupcakes, and inviting us over for dinner and nice things like that. She was 43 when she was diagnosed with breast cancer.

My family considered her to be such a close family friend that we were devastated when we heard the news. Strangely, she knew she was going to be diagnosed because her grandmother and mother all had breast cancer. Fortunately, they all beat it. I was so proud of her for keeping such a positive attitude even though she was at stage three of breast cancer.

Stage three means that the breast cancer has extended to beyond the immediate region of the tumor and may have invaded nearby lymph nodes and muscles but has not spread to distant organs. Although stage three is considered to be advanced, there are a growing number of effective treatment options.

Breast cancer affects 1 in 8 women in the United States. Next to lung cancer, it is the second-leading cancer killer of women. Breast cancer doesn’t only affect women; one in 1,000 men has a lifetime risk of getting breast cancer. If you find a lump in or near your breast or notice a size difference, it’s best to go to the doctor to get it checked.

Most women notice lumps at the age of 45, and some even as young as 11. Thanks to screening, breast cancer can be found early. When detected early and treated, there’s a very good successful rate for being cured.

If there’s been history of breast cancer in your family, chances are that you may get breast cancer. Don’t assume you’re safe if there’s been no history of breast cancer in your family though.

Luckily for my dear older friend, she was able to get the treatment that she needed to beat the cancer. Breast cancer stage is based on the size of the tumor within the breast, the number of lymph nodes affected, the nearest lymph nodes found under the arm and signs indicating whether or not the breast cancer has invaded other organs within the body.

If breast cancer has invaded other parts of the body, evidence may be found in the bones, liver, lungs or brain. Early detection is the key because it increases your chances of beating breast cancer.

Many doctors advise that you routinely check your breasts for lumps. If you don’t find any lumps, keep up with your semi-yearly doctor examinations, because sometimes even then, doctors will find something that you missed.