The Truth About Breast Cancer and What You Can Do About It
It would be hard to find someone who hasn’t had a family member or friend touched by breast cancer. Personally, I lost my mother 10 years ago to stage 4 breast cancer (secondary cancer or more precise, metastatic breast cancer), a friend I had known since high school died a few years prior to my mother’s passing and another good friend died a few years after my Mum. I also have another girlfriend currently fighting this horrible disease too. The scary thing is three out of the four women I know/knew with cancer were under forty when they were first diagnosed.
A recent study about breast cancer in young women aged 20-39 years from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW), reveals that 795 women aged 20-39 years are expected to be diagnosed with breast cancer this year, and one woman aged 20 -39 will die from breast cancer every week.
The report shows that while the number of young women being diagnosed has reduced, women in their 20s and 30s have less chance of survival than older women, as the cancer is often more aggressive. ‘When looking at breast cancer in young women, we see a higher proportion of very large breast cancers (>=50mm) diagnosed (8%) than in older women (6%). Very large breast cancers are associated with lower survival than small breast cancers (<15mm).
However, even for small breast cancers—which tend to be associated with more treatment options and improved survival—young women have a lower survival rate (93%) than women aged 40 and over (99%).
Women in their 20’s and 30’s also have careers, a busy lifestyle and maybe a family to look after and usually by the time something is found, the size of the cancer itself is in the large category, which is harder to treat. Especially if the cancer has been left too long and has spread to areas such as the lymph nodes.
Younger women diagnosed can also experience feelings of isolation, as there are not as many people going through the same experience, as well as early menopause and infertility from treatment. These issues can often impact the rest of their lives.
Unfortunately, mammograms do not work well at detecting cancer in younger breasts, so the best method of early detection of breast cancer in young women is through breast awareness. Young women are being called upon to familiarise themselves with their breasts and to know when there is a change that doesn’t seem right, such as shape, size, lumpiness, nipple changes, redness/dimpling on the breast or unusual pain. You can also find out more information on how to check your breasts on the McGrath Foundation website. You should get into a regular habit of checking your breasts. In the shower once a week is usually a good idea.
If you are over forty, you can get a referral for a mammogram from your GP. You can also make an appointment at David Jones Rose Clinics, which provides a unique in-store free health screening service for women over 40 to assist with the early detection of breast cancer. The Rose Clinics use state-of-the-art digital mammography technology and provide a welcoming and comfortable environment for David Jones customers. For more information and to make an appointment, head to the David Jones website.
We hope more funding will be put towards research into finding a cure for breast cancer or the very least, a vaccine. We would also hope that breast checks for women of all ages will become compulsory when having a pap smear. Easy accessibility to gene testing for the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes, as most cancers are caused by gene faults that develop during our lifetime.
So what can we do to help fund research for a cure and care for those already with breast cancer? Well, with October being Breast Cancer month, you can donate to breast cancer organisations such as BCNA, NBCF,Cancer Council and the McGrath Foundation directly. Pink Ribbon Day is on the 21st October. Cancer Council’s Pink Ribbon campaign aims to raise awareness about breast and gynaecological cancers, as well as raise funds for prevention programs, support services and vital cancer research.
You can purchase items from the following partners:
Berlei together with partner Breast Cancer Network Australia, are encouraging all Australians to support those affected by breast cancer.
As part of this initiative, Berlei has released a Pink Bra collection, with $10 from the sale of each bra donated to BCNA to ensure those affected by breast cancer can receive the best care, treatment, and support. You can read more about the collection in our post here.
Sussan will be joining forces with Breast Cancer Network Australia (BCNA) to amplify their stories and support their incredible services. For this month Sussan will be selling two special edition BCNA products to support women affected by breast cancer. $10 from every BCNA tee and $20 from every BCNA PJ set will go towards helping women affected by breast cancer. You can shop the collection on the Sussan website.
For the month of October, Boody has released a limited range of McGrath pink underwear styles, with 100 per cent of the profits from each item going directly to the McGrath Foundation. Boody’s Shaper Crop Bra, Classic Bikini and Original Boxer will all be available in pink from 1st October until the end of the month, or while stock lasts. Head to the Boody website for more information.
Interflora is a proud partner of The National Breast Cancer Foundation. They have created a collection of two gorgeous bouquets, where 5% of the proceeds will go to NBCF. Shop the collection here.
We’ll be adding more ways you can help over the course of the month.