October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month! That makes it a good month to get your mammogram, every year. Each year in October the pink comes out and Breast Cancer is brought to the forefront of our minds (is it ever very far away?). October is an opportunity to advocate for our own health and remind others to do the same. Recent studies show that 50% of insured women do not get an annual mammogram. Yet, it only takes a few minutes of our time. So pick up the phone and make your appointment, then call your best friend and tell her that October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month!
The other day I was preparing a 40-year-old woman for surgery. She was having a mastectomy. They discovered her cancer with her very first routine mammogram. So apropos that October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. She said to me, “I think 40 is too late to start having mammograms!” I think she has a point. No matter how old you are it is important to take an aggressive approach to your breast care. Self exams need to be done every month. Annual breast exams by your doctor should become routine for you as well. Annual mammograms should start at 40, or earlier if your doctor agrees. These little tasks can save your very valuable life.
Here is a simple statistic that supports a routine mammogram schedule: When detected early, the five-year survival rate is 98% for breast cancer. When breast cancer is not detected early the five-year survival rate is 23%. Uh-huh.
Taking charge of your own health can be a lot easier if you just assign one month a year to address your health screening needs. For example, my health month is February. Every February I get my eyes checked, get a physical from my primary care physician and from my gynecologist. Each February I also make sure I get a mammogram. Knowing that these things are all due in February makes it easy for me to remember to make the appointments. Further, when a physician or….whoever…asks me when I last had my cholesterol etc. checked, I know exactly when.
I actually like the idea of having my health month in October. It just makes sense since October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. This campaign is so well advertised that it is hard to miss. The recognition will always serve as a reminder to make your appointments. So, the answer is easy. Take charge of your health and make October your own personal Breast Cancer Awareness Month.