We all know someone in our lives that have been impacted by breast cancer. Three stories stand out for me. A close friend from High School lost her mom to breast cancer during our sophomore year of college. Later, while I was in graduate school, my cousin, 2 years older than I, found a lump while she was breastfeeding her 3rd child. She fought a good fight, but did not win that battle at the age of 28. And 4 months after I had my daughter, one of my dearest friends from grade school, we met when we were 10 years old, found an odd rash on her breast and was diagnosed with an aggressive form of breast cancer. It was an intense battle for her, but she is totally cancer free and now has 2 new beautifully reconstructed breasts. I am in awe of her strength on a daily basis.
I share these stories first to honor and remember those in my life that have bore this experience. I also share to inspire us as women, of any age, to get informed and take steps to life a more healthy life, and most importantly, get to know your body. Become the expert on your body. Be aware of any changes in your breasts, studies continue to show that women self identify lumps or irregularities. Certainly while you are pregnant and while you are breast-feeding, your breasts change a lot. It is also not necessarily the time to have a general mammogram screening. If you suspect something is different, or you find something that you don’t feel comfortable with, like a rash or a lump, talk to your medical provider. We always encourage open dialogues between women and their health care team. Remember, you are a member of that team, and definitely the center of focus.
Just as we nurture a loving relationship with our mates and our children, we must do the same with ourselves. Eat healthy, preferably organic, whole foods, exercise and make real steps toward a non-sedentary lifestyle. Find space in your day regularly to pause, breathe, and be still; connect to a higher peace. These practices and lifestyle choices enthuse us, help us to feel better about ourselves, and give us the strength as we walk through all of life’s experiences. Being a parent is a daily surrender to knowing that we control so little, yet have a responsibility to so much.
As October draws to a close, I am sending extra thoughts of love and life to all families and women everywhere.
Alisa Donner, Co-Founder, Pregnancy Awareness Month®
For More Information on Breast Cancer Awareness Month, please visit the National Breast Cancer Foundation Foundation.