Detection is key to cancer prevention

Published 11:29 pm Monday, October 1, 2012

She was sitting in the doctor’s office nervously waiting for him to return with the diagnosis. As she sat there, she gazed at the anatomical pictures and diagrams that covered the wall of the exam room. Like most people, all kinds of thoughts ran through her mind. There were thoughts of denial followed by thoughts of demise.

“What would happen to my children? Who will take care of them? How would they survive in a world without their mother?”

It had only been five to 10 minutes since the doctor had left the room, but to her, it felt like hours. Anxiety and tension grew with the passing of each minute. As she waited, she thought, “Maybe I should just leave before the doctor returns?”

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As she approached the door, the doctor walked in along with two of his colleagues. Of course, that made her even more nervous. Cautiously, she sat down anticipating what the doctors would say. He began by telling her that the mammogram revealed an abnormality and he was sure that it was malignant. The room vanished and she found herself in a dark room, unable to feel or focus on anything. She wanted to cry but could not due to the numbness. The good news was that the cancer was diagnosed in the earliest stage, improving her survival rate to 99 percent.

Breast cancer is the leading cause of deaths related to cancer in women with the second being lung cancer. According to the American Cancer Society, an estimated 226,870 new cases of invasive breast cancer and 39,510 deaths from breast cancer are expected to occur among women in the U.S. in 2012. Breast cancer has too often robbed us of our mothers, grandmothers, sisters, aunts, cousins, and friends, but we can fight back.

October is breast cancer awareness month and the best way to fight against this hideous disease is to be proactive.

Being proactive means encouraging our loved ones to get regular screenings performed by a physician or nurse practitioner, eating a balanced diet, maintaining a healthy weight, exercising regularly and limiting alcohol intake.

There isn’t a life that hasn’t been touched by breast cancer. We will continue to fight to make breast screenings more affordable and accessible.

It is unacceptable that any woman goes past the recommended timeframe without a screening due to unaffordability.

We must continue to work towards coverage for all women. Because of a regular screening and early detection, the patient walked out of the doctor’s office with hope in her heart and a gleam in her eye about the future she would spend with her children.

So, remember early detection is the key to survival. We possess the power to fight back.