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Thursday, September 11, 2008

A Subject Close To My Heart

Aside from non-melanoma skin cancer, breast cancer is the most common form of cancer in women. Breast cancer is the number one cause of cancer death in Hispanic women. It is the second most common cause of cancer death in white, black, Asian/Pacific Islander, and American Indian/Alaska Native women.
In 2004 (the most recent year numbers are available),
  • 186,772 women and 1,815 men were diagnosed with breast cancer
  • 40,954 women and 362 men died from breast cancer

Among diseases in women, breast cancer is the 6th leading cause of death in woman and can strike as early as twenty years of age. The risk of developing breast cancer increases with age. Approximately 1 in 100 women who are 60 years old now will die of breast cancer before age 70.

The good news about all that is public awareness and funding has increased dramatically in the last twenty-five years due largely to the Susan G. Komen Foundation. And now, more women than ever before are surviving breast cancer because of early detection through mammography, MRIs, clinical breast exam and breast self-exam.

I’ve been an advocate of yearly screening and regular self-exams for many years. Still, you think that by doing these things, it won’t happen to you or those you love. I was wrong.

Last spring, my younger sister found out she had Stage 1 breast cancer. She had surgery, followed by extensive testing which revealed a tiny lymphatic vessel which was “not negative”. One small obscure area. She needed a course of chemo to ensure that indeed she had no remaining cells in her body.

Last week, I had the privilege of being with her for her LAST chemo treatment. We are grateful that she has done very well and Lord willing, will join the ranks of “breast cancer survivors”. She has been incredibly optimistic and has had a wonderful group of friends who have walked with her, laughed with her, and offered shoulders to cry on. They will be by her side, I know, as she has radiation later in the fall.

My sister, Donna—wearing her graduation crown—with two of her amazing friends—ReNee and Gina.

For you, dear readers, I’m not asking you to consider having a mammogram—I am begging you. Make an appointment today. Take a friend or sister or the lady next door and make it an event. Already had your mammo this year? Consider helping out with the “Race for the cure” by signing up for a walk or run in your area. You can find a complete list of the runs here.

For Donna, my friend Debbie (who was also diagnosed this year), and any of you going through breast cancer, you are loved and precious. And I’m pulling for you.
Love and prayers.


Erica Vetsch said...

Oh, Carla, thank you for posting this. This is a subject dear to my heart as well. Even today I'm headed over to my MIL's to mop floors for her. She's in the last stages of mestatic breast cancer. It's been six, almost seven years since her initial diagnosis.

What a terrible disease.

Myra Johnson said...

Carla, so happy your sister's chemo went well. We have a friend running in the Susan G. Koman Race for the Cure and have already pledged our support. My mother-in-law, who passed away in 1994, was a breast cancer victim, although she had 10 good years after her mastectomy. Detection and treatment have come a long way since then, praise God! Praying this cruel disease can be completely eradicated very, very soon.