October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. As a male, it is not something that I often thought of and something that I never considered an issue for myself. That was until a number of years ago.
Cancer is the second leading cause of death in women in America, the first being heart disease. About 1 in 8 women will develop breast cancer, and while less common, men are also susceptible to breast cancer.
One of the single best thing a woman can do for early detection of breast cancer is monthly self exams. It is a simple procedure that takes just a few minutes, and can literally save a woman’s life. If a lump, or some other questionable issues is discovered an immediate follow-up with a doctor is in order.
I’ve written about this before, but it bears repeating. Many years ago my wife at the time and I were having some “intimate” time for ourselves, and I felt a lump on her breast. It was large enough for me to be concerned, and we called the next day for a doctor’s appointment. Her doctor confirmed that there was in fact a lump (one of the early signs of breast cancer) and referred her to an oncologist.
Another exam was done, and the lump was again confirmed. A mammogram was done, and again confirmed that there was a lump in the breast. The oncologist didn’t think at the time that the lump was cancerous, but did say that it needed to go. Surgery was scheduled, and within a couple of weeks she was under the knife for a “lumpectomy.” The surgery took several hours, and the biopsy results were back within a week. Fortunately the lump was benign, and other than taking a month or so to heal up, she was fine.
The weeks between my finding the lump and getting the actual results of the biopsy were excruciatingly difficult. The fear that she might have cancer was with us daily, and while you try to be positive on things there is always that nagging feeling in the back of your mind, “What if?”
The doctor who did her surgery was fantastic and very informative. One of the things that he told me was that many of his patients, especially ones that do not do breast self-exams, have lumps discovered by their significant other. I thought it ironic and a bit humorous that getting “felt up” could save someone’s life.
Since then I have encouraged all of my female friends to do monthly self-exams, and encouraged their significant others to learn what their partners breasts feel like normally. This way, if something is different, it can be discovered early and treated quickly. Early detection is the best course of action towards treatment.
So, ladies, please for your sake, and the sake of your family do your monthly self-exam. Gentlemen, learn your wife or girlfriend’s breasts and be aware of any changes. If something is discovered get into your doctor immediately for a check up. Early detection is vital, and breast cancer is survivable.