How many degrees of separation are you from a breast cancer fighter… a survivor? With 1 in 8 women developing breast cancer in their lifetime, the odds are the degree of separation for any one person is too low. Mother, sister, niece, aunt, daughter, wife, granddaughter, in-law, neighbor, friend, buddy at the gym, co-worker two cubicles down, your favorite vidder on the best scifi blog around… you really do not need to think too hard for someone to come to mind.
October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and with that, I decided that I wanted to write a couple articles during this month… hoping to raise awareness on the matter. If these articles help even one person then the purpose of my writing will have been met.
Now how do you gain degrees of separation? Well the best defense against Breast Cancer is a proactive offense. Talk about it!
– Early detection is the key to survival.
– Listen to your body and don’t forget monthly breast checks.
– If at all possible: know your family history
– Be sure to get regular check ups
– Talk to your doctor, ASK QUESTIONS! The only dumb question is the one not asked.
– Know that mammograms are our friends.
Today we have genetics testing that can identify mutations that lead to a higher risk of developing breast cancer. These test can not predict positively that one will develop breast cancer. If you do discover that you carry the defective genes, be sure to make an educated decision for yourself.
Most recently, Sci-Fi’s very own leading lady Angelina Jolie (Laura Croft Tomb Raider, Salt, Beuwolf, Wanted) broke the news that she had undergone a preventative double mastectomy. Her decision came after receiving result of a genetics test that showed she was carrying the ‘BRAC1’ gene which puts a woman at a higher risk of developing breast cancer, which very recently took her Maternal Aunt Debbie Martin… also ovarian cancer which Angelina’s own mother, Marcheline Bertrand died from.
In May, Angelina wrote a very powerful article for the NY Times The Opinion Pages… below are a few excerpts from her article entitled “My Medical Choice” (a must read)
“MY MOTHER fought cancer for almost a decade and died at 56. She held out long enough to meet the first of her grandchildren and to hold them in her arms. But my other children will never have the chance to know her and experience how loving and gracious she was.
We often speak of “Mommy’s mommy,” and I find myself trying to explain the illness that took her away from us. They have asked if the same could happen to me. I have always told them not to worry, but the truth is I carry a “faulty” gene, BRCA1, which sharply increases my risk of developing breast cancer and ovarian cancer.
… My doctors estimated that I had an 87 percent risk of breast cancer and a 50 percent risk of ovarian cancer, although the risk is different in the case of each woman. Only a fraction of breast cancers result from an inherited gene mutation. Those with a defect in BRCA1 have a 65 percent risk of getting it, on average. Once I knew that this was my reality, I decided to be proactive and to minimize the risk as much I could. I made a decision to have a preventive double mastectomy.
… For any woman reading this, I hope it helps you to know you have options. I want to encourage every woman, especially if you have a family history of breast or ovarian cancer, to seek out the information and medical experts who can help you through this aspect of your life, and to make your own informed choices.
— I wanted to write this to tell other women that the decision to have a mastectomy was not easy. But it is one I am very happy that I made. My chances of developing breast cancer have dropped from 87 percent to under 5 percent. I can tell my children that they don’t need to fear they will lose me to breast cancer.
… Life comes with many challenges. The ones that should not scare us are the ones we can take on and take control of. “
Today the phrase “Angelina Jolie Effect” has been coined and let’s face it, in today’s society people tend to listen the hardest to news that involve public figures, and I am quite okay with that. It raises more awareness to issues that need to be on peoples minds.
Please remember that it is up to you how you respond if this ever is placed in your path of life. Educate yourself and ask questions… I can not emphasize that more. It is better to make an informed decision rather than letting fear guide you.
What we need to never forget is we have a voice ourselves. Get out there, make folks aware, raise support… Be the voice that brings in that last donation that finally brings the cure.
SAY IT… FIGHT IT… CURE IT… DAMN IT!
Below is a wonderful short film from Glamour’s Reel Moments Video Series called A Proper Send-Off. It was directed by Eva Longoria and stars the amazingly talented and beautiful actress Jacinda Barrett (Zero Hour)…
This Beast Does Not Discriminate…
Since men have breast tissue, they can get breast cancer. But, breast cancer in men is rare. About one percent of all breast cancer cases in the U.S. occur in men. It may sound like a small number, but that’s still 2,240 new cases expected among men this year. Also, 410 men in the U.S. are expected to die from breast cancer this year. more at Susan G. Komen dot Org
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Angelina Photos: Firooz Zahedi