Its October and like every year, there’s going to be a lot of talk about breast cancer. It’s likely that each of you will come across something pink- a fundraiser walk, an awareness talk or at-least someone wearing a pink ribbon. When you do, be careful not to make these common wrong assumptions.
PInktober Mistake 1: ” It’s not for me”
Quote from a patient who presented with an advanced cancer: ” We organized an awareness and screening camp for our women’s’ group, but I didn’t think I needed it” Everyone assumes breast cancer is something that happens to someone else, but the truth is it can happen to anyone.
Pinktober Mistake 2: “Its probably nothing serious”
When someone finds an abnormality on a free mammogram, women assume it can’t be cancer because they “feel alright.” The whole idea is to find cancers before they have a chance to make you sick. Although most things we pick up are not cancers, make sure you undergo a complete diagnosis for whatever is found.
Pinktober Mistake 3: “I’ll get to it at some point”
Often women are participating in these drives and camps in the spirit of a “fun group activity” This is a different mindset from a woman who goes in all seriousness for a doctor visit. When what was supposed to be “just a pinktober event” reveals something important that needs attention, women procrastinate taking the next step.
Pinktober Mistake 4: Misreading the message altogether
The message of breast cancer awareness is read very differently by different women. Someone hears” There’s something called breast cancer, it happens to some women”. Another hears ” Oh my god, I’m scared now that I will get it” The actionable part of the message received should be: ” To lower my breast cancer risk, I’m going to start exercising” ” If I were to get it, I’d rather its detected early and therefore I’ll go for annual breast exams with a doctor; and mammograms as advised.”
Pinktober Mistake 5: Forget everything after October
Much like new year resolutions, women forget about the resolutions made in October a few months later. There’s a lot to do once October is over. If you’re over 40, note the last date of your mammogram and get the next one at a year from that date. Keep monthly self breast exams incorporated into your routine as “good habits.” Stay willing to discuss the topic with friends and family you meet. Lend a helping hand to someone who will deal with breast cancer this year.