Breast Cancer Awareness is not Breast Cancer Education
I’m Holly Rose, founder and CEO of Don’t be a Chump! Check for a Lump! I am also an eight-year breast cancer survivor. Our non-profit mission is to make a difference in the fight against breast cancer through education, prevention and direct assistance with free wigs. Now that Susan G. Komen has left the state we are stepping in to help fill the giant deficit of breast health resources. Immersed in our community I discovered that women confuse breast cancer awareness with breast cancer education. These are two completely different subjects. Mass women attend breast cancer awareness events and walk away with the perception that they have been educated when in reality they know very little about the disease and prevention. The American Cancer Society estimates that over 255,000 women will be struck with breast cancer every year, over 4,500 of them will reside in Arizona. Over 41,000 women will die in the United States every year. I learned that a large portion of breast cancer is preventable. Through polling I discovered women are confused on screening guidelines, neglect self-exams and timely mammograms, have no idea that up to 30% of all cancer is caused by lack of proper nutrition and absolutely flabbergasted to learn their beauty and household products and our food contain cancer-causing chemicals. The correlation to carcinogenic chemicals in our products and all disease is skyrocketing. I approach women every day and ask them if they would like to hear facts and prevention tips on breast cancer and their response is like my 9 and 10 year old girls when I tried to teach them about sex. The covered their ears and yelled out, “I’m not listening! I’m not listening! I’m not ready for this!” The majority of women in our community are doing the same thing with breast cancer. They are overly optimistic regarding thinking, “It won’t be me.” and they not ready to take the time to educate themselves on the facts and make changes and they stay in denial. I can share with you what made me step up. I was diagnosed with breast cancer eight years ago at the age of 39. I was lucky someone reminded me to do a self-exam and I found it when there was a good chance it was treatable. I went through 9 months of treatment and there was nothing pretty or pink about it. I went through 9 months of treatment. 9 months of lying on the couch with horrifying side effects that are too gruesome for me to recall ever again. 9 months of lying on the couch watching my girls walk out the door, watching my husband walk out the door and watching my life pass me by. 9 months of wondering, “Am I going to die?’ and “Will I be around for my girls? Will I be here to teach them, listen to them, comfort and encourage them, love them? Will I be here?” And then I learned that less than 10% of breast is hereditary. Let me restate that even clearer – 90% of women who get breast cancer have absolutely no family history of breast cancer. A very large portion is preventable. So I sat in that chemo chair and vowed to educate myself and make any changes I could to prevent this awful disease from ever coming back again. I picked up a book on nutrition and then another, and then I poured through article after article. Then I stepped out of denial and made many drastic changes to improve my health. I continued on my prevention path and made one small change every month and I still do. I am asking you to STEP UP to prevention and be accountable for your health and the health of your family. Breast health education doesn’t have to be scary and you don’t have to cover your ears. It’s just like my daughter and the sex talks. I didn’t give them the X-rated version first. We made baby steps. And that is what I’m asking you to do. Make the first baby step to register for our walk, sign up for our free presentation to listen to facts and learn prevention tips. From there choose one preventive change every month and commit to it and build upon it. It’s easier than you think and we actually make it fun. You could be the next woman diagnosed with breast cancer or your daughter, or your sister or your best friend. 255,000 women do not have to suffer through breast cancer and 41,000 do not have to die. We can eliminate a large portion of these incidences. Education and Prevention is a Cure, so STEP UP.