Wear Your Pink


By: , SparkPeople Blogger

For many years now, October has been known as Breast Cancer Awareness Month. This year is no exception. Just walking through my local department store pink is everywhere...from vacuum cleaners to pots and pans to the traditional pink ribbons.

Breast cancer does not discriminate. We are all vulnerable to this disease, women more so than men, but men are not immune. According to the National Cancer Institute (NCI), so far this year alone over 182,000 women and men have been diagnosed with breast cancer; and of that number over 40,000 have succumbed to the disease.

Over the past several years more celebrities have made it known that they too have been struck with this disease. Most recently Christina Applegate revealed her own battle with breast cancer and is currently undergoing treatment. While other celebrities including actresses Edie Falco and Cynthia Nixon, journalists Robin Roberts and Hoda Kotb, singers Sheryl Crow and Kylie Minogue and Elizabeth Edwards, wife to former Presidential candidate, John Edwards, have all become outspoken proponents for finding a cure.

What can we do to increase our chances for survival?

Education and a strong partnership with your health care provider are keys to an early diagnosis and a better chance for survival. Below is a list of the more commonly known risk factors. You can find a more-depth list on the National Cancer Institute and Susan G. Komen websites.

Risk Factors
  • Age - The older we get the greater the risk, especially after age 60. Latest statistics show that most cases of breast cancer are diagnosed in women age 40 and older.
  • Race - White women are diagnosed more often then women of African American, Latino or Asian descent.
  • Family history -Women whose mother, sister, or daughter were diagnosed with breast cancer, especially before age 40 are at a greater risk.
  • Women with a prior diagnosis with breast cancer are at greater risk of developing cancer in the other breast.
  • Weight - Being overweight or obese prior to menopause has been shown to diminish the risk of developing breast cancer. However, after menopause, being overweight has been shown to increase a woman’s risk between 30% and 60% depending on the amount of weight she is carrying.
  • Inactivity has been shown to increase a woman’s risk which may be related to her weight gain.
  • Women who wait to have children later in life, especially after age 35.
  • Women who started their menstrual cycle before 12 years of age.
  • Women who experienced menopause after age 55.
  • Women who are taking hormone replacement therapy for menopause.

  • Yearly Clinical Breast Exams
  • Self Breast Exams
  • Mammograms after age 40. Every 1-2 years for women in their 40s, then annually after age 50. If you are younger than age 40 and have concerns, don’t hesitate to talk with your health care provider to see if a mammogram would be beneficial.

Many of those diagnosed every year have no family history of breast cancer or fall into the high risk category so PLEASE don’t ignore changes in your health. It is essential to talk with your health care provider if you experience any changes, especially if you detect changes in your breast. Denial and fear are what keep many of us from visiting our doctor but early detection can have a huge impact on the outcome.

So wear your pink ribbon, participate in the many charity walks and runs held each October for this great cause, and let’s see if we can find a cure for this disease so that future generations will not have to live in fear.

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  • 51
    So far I don't have breast cancer, but didn't realize what the odds were when your family history doesn't include a parent or sibling having it. My dad's sisters had it and died. Didn't realize until doing a risk accessment that increases your odds as well as no children and starting periods before 12 years old. Thanks Sparkpeople for providing the information to help us with better health!! I do get regular checkups, self-examinations and regular testing since being over 40. - 10/23/2010   12:22:38 PM
  • ROBERT40
    i have had 4 surgeries for cancer all due to early detection . i am blessed that i have not had to have any orher intervention but arimidex daily for breast cancer yearly checkups are a must push friends and relatives into getting it done .
    - 8/30/2010   11:00:29 AM
  • 49
    Thanks for the reminder for me to get checked. - 7/2/2010   4:13:36 PM
    I fully support the breast cancer awareness. We had a scare not long ago with my 22 year old daughter. Thankfully it turned out ok after surgery. She kept being told she was too young by DR.s !! You can't be too young and you can be a man from what I understand....People need to step up to their dr. and say no it just isn't right. I want proof it isn't... - 10/29/2009   11:48:14 AM
    I , too, am a breast cancer survivor. I have walked in the NCI Breast Cancer Awareness Walk for 10 years but it took on an entirely new meaning for me this year as a survivor.

    It was the result of my annual mammogram that my cancer was diagnosed. My treatment was a mastectomy with reconstruction. If you or someone you love isn't doing their annual screening I encourage you to be proactive because this probably saved my life. - 10/21/2009   9:08:45 PM
  • 46
    Breast cancer touched my life in 1989. I lost my grandmother whom I was closest to as a child just before her 75th birthday. 2 months ago, 2 women at our school underwent mastectomies and are working towards recovery and hopefully cancer free lives. God Bless all who work towards a cure! - 5/15/2009   8:20:08 PM
  • AWAKE4578
    I am a HUGE supporter of Breast Cancer Awareness. I am so thankful to be a Pampered Chef consultant and Celebrate it in May too. We even have "pink" products. Everyone is in the kitchen every day. When you see your pink kitchen tools its a friendly reminder to do your monthly checks. It really is great. If you are interested you can check out my website for fun facts too about breast cancer awareness and research. www.pamperedchef.biz/amandawakefiel

    - 5/4/2009   2:51:01 PM
  • ASHLEYA423
    I am all about supporting breast cancer. My mother has stage 4 breast cancer so I try to do things that will donate to the breast cancer fund. - 10/20/2008   4:48:17 PM
  • 43
    thanks for the information. very good... i didn't really aware about breast cancer but reading this article gives me good information. - 10/17/2008   3:55:24 AM
  • 42
    Cancer is one of the scariest words! I have lost my grandfather to stomach cancer, my aunt to breast cancer, my cousin is a survivor of hodgkinís disease, and my nice is a survivor of leukemia.

    I wear pink all the time to honor all the survivors out there, and to never ever forget the ones we have lost to breast cancer.

    God Bless all of you who support an honor! - 10/1/2008   8:53:19 AM
  • 41
    My mom had Breast Cancer when she was around 50 years of age. It could have been younger. She was lucky and lived a long life. I wear pink all the time.
    Thanks - 9/30/2008   7:11:50 PM
  • BAF0507
    i keep a pink ribbon pinned to my pocketbook all the time and have done the Komen 3day walk for the past 5 years
    we can't stop raising money & awareness until this disease is gone - 9/30/2008   9:56:16 AM
  • 39
    I try to wear Breast Cancer support shirts the whole month of October. Breast Cancer took the lives of my grandmother and aunt, both under 60. I also will walk for a cure next weekend. Fighting for a Cure. - 9/30/2008   3:41:00 AM
  • 38
    My grandmother passed away from breast cancer the 16th of September. I have been wearing a pink ribbon ever since. She had a double mastectomy in May and they obviously didn't get it all. - 9/29/2008   8:17:47 PM
  • 37
    This is a cause near and dear to my heart. After watching my mom battle breast cancer, my maternal grandmother have a lumpectomy for breast cancer, my aunt (momís sister) have breast cancer, and my cousin (my momís niece, daughter of her only sister) battle breast cancer once, only to have it come back again, I am VERY aware of this threat to woman. At 28, I have been going for regular mammograms every year since I was 20. It seems young, but with so many members of my close family having breast cancer, I donít think I can be too safe. I recommend everyone who may be at risk to be vigilant about their health. Be supportive and help fight against breast cancer, not only in October, but all through-out the year. - 9/29/2008   3:50:30 PM
  • 36
    As a daughter to a two time breast cancer survivor (10 years apart...shows you can NEVER let your guard down!)...you bet I will be wearing pink! I also have walked the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer, a 2 day 39.3 mile walk to raise money for breast cancer research and treatment... - 9/29/2008   2:51:18 PM
  • 35
    I have a very dear friend who developed cancer in one breast, and was found to have lesions in the other, she had a double mastectomy. So she is back to work, and very hopeful. I pray for her all the time. Another friend who I work with, has had a second lump removed. She is in denial and does not take her meds like she should. Breaks my heart for her. And last I have another friend who has had inflamatory breast cancer now for 4 years. She is a FIGHTER, still struggling with the disease, and I pray DAILY for her!!! God bless Survivors for all the time you have been given and MORE! Band together, and stay STRONG. Their IS strength in numbers! - 9/29/2008   1:15:22 PM
    I recently ran in the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure. My grandmother was diagnosed with breast cancer last year. She is electing to only do small amounts of treatment, but nothing invasive, so she will likely succumb to it in the very near future. I hate to see it, but it is her choice. Her sister died from the disease after having surgeries and she saw her miserable and in pain. She does not want to go through that. I am starting my journey to being more fit after having my 3rd and last child. This was my first race and was a rewarding experience for both myself since I completed it and ran about 2/3 of it and also running in celebration of my grandmother. Seeing all of the survivors at the beginning of the race was so touching. I love my grandmother and to see so many women affected by the disease like she is brought tears to my eyes. I know that I am at-risk and I hope a cure is found for all of our sakes. I support all things pink in the store. If I have a choice (from golf clubs to trash bags), I buy pink. I hope all of us will make those choices. - 9/29/2008   12:16:36 PM
  • 33
    I am all "pinked" and ready! I have my pink swim suit and towel packed for water aerobics, I have a little pin ready for my husbands shirt ... I even have a pink vacuum!
    Although I don't have breast cancer, I am considered a high risk woman and have cystic breasts to boot! So, I have had several needle and open biopsies. I know it is something about which I MUST be vigilant!
    Thanks for the reminder and all the wonderful info!!! - 9/29/2008   11:09:56 AM
  • 32
    Great article. I actually went to the Komen site and got some information. - 9/29/2008   9:35:28 AM
  • 31
    What a huge response to this!!! I have been doing the Susan G Koman 3 day walk for 2 years now...life changing is all I can say....amazing....I do not have breast cancer, but I will walk the 60 miles over 3 days for as many years as I can so my daughters and granddaughters (and the boys, too!) someday wont have to worry!!!
    Check out my page for more info on breast cancer....every THIRTEEN SECONDS someone DIES from it...scary!!!!
    60 miles......3 days......1 reason: A Cure for Breast Cancer!     
    I will continue to raise money and walk 60 miles until a cure is found. Help me raise $5000.00 towards a cure!!! I walk because I can; for those who can't. http://08.the3day.org/goto/KatheyCo

    (copy and paste the link if you cant click on it...

    - 9/29/2008   8:04:30 AM
  • 30
    I have never had it but my mom is a survivor of breast cancer and I own so much pink ribbon stuff. My husband is proud to stand out at the curbing of our yard/road and use HIS pink shovel. The neighbors used to raz him about it funny thing when they found out why it was pink and the ribbon on it, it was amazing how many of them knew of someone who had survived it. Makes a big world seem kinda small - 9/29/2008   3:15:10 AM
  • 29
    I was diagnosed with breast cancer on May 6, 2008. Except for an aunt on my father's side, I had no family history of breast cancer. I had two lumpectomies and am currently undergoing chemotherapy, with radiation to follow. GET YOUR MAMMOGRAMS! I also encourage everyone to click on www.thebreastcancersite.com...each click means sponsors will pay for mammograms for those who cannot afford it. - 9/28/2008   6:16:16 PM
  • 28
    I am 53 years old and am just starting my journey with breast cancer. On Sept 5th I had a "suspicious lump" removed. It turned out to be cancerous and they also found "spots" that did not show on the mam or the ultra sound that are a different form of b/c (invasive/noninvasive). I am now scheduled for a partial mastectomy and the removal of about 10 lymph nodes on Oct 8th. There is no one in my family that has b/c prior to myself and other than being a white women packing a few extra pounds, I do not have any other risk factors. I think I truly believed that it could not happen to me. Guess what?!!
    I am so thankful for the advances that have been made in this area, and wish I could personally thank each one of you that have raised funds and awareness through the many walks and fundraisers. THANKS! I thrive on positive support (that's why I love sparks!) so please wish me luck.
    Jo - 9/28/2008   2:11:19 PM
    I'm a breast cancer suvivor. Five years. Yeah! In addition to the risk factors you can and should influence, you must, must, must get a mammogram every year (or as often as your doctor tells you to) and you must do self-exams. I found my lump while soaping up in the shower. I am amazed at the women I know who create all sorts of reasons not to do these things. The treatments weren't pleasant but worth every minute, for it literally gave me my life back. Here's to the fantastic doctors, nurses, and technicians who healed me. Here's the a top-notch medical center that treats the whole patient. - 9/28/2008   1:52:42 PM
  • 26
    I am daughter and cousin of b/c survivors. My mom was a 24 year survivor and my cousin is a double mascectomy(sp) 30 year survivor. I've had 2 childhood friends to die from it because of lack of medical insurance and just plain scared to tell anyone. I have been getting regular mammos for 6 years and am an advocate of breast cancer awareness. I was supposed to participate in the Komen Race but had to cancel due to tendonitis in my heel. Hopefully I'll be walking in a local walk next month and will definitely be wearing my pink! I hope you have some too! - 9/28/2008   11:45:41 AM
  • 25
    Great article. Please also be aware that many readings of mammograms are not accurate; I found a lump that was diagnosed as breast cancer only AFTER I insisted it be removed and thoroughly reviewed by a pathologist. The mammogram and even the needle aspiration came up as (false) negatives. Bottom line, while panic is bad, be aware that no test is perfect and you have a right to insist on folowup treatments and second opinions if you suspect you have cancer. - 9/28/2008   5:04:19 AM
  • 24
    Yes, this is a great article.

    Every women should have their mammograms to get treated early if you are having problems.

    I get tested every year because I have health problems; I make sure I get tested every year no matter what.

    So ladies to the ones who don't get tested you need too.

    I will be wearing pink in October to support BCA. - 9/28/2008   12:43:51 AM
  • 23
    Thank you for this. My grandmother was diag. with BC a few years ago and is doing fine, but it wasn't until my bestfriend was diag. last month that I realized that I need to really get myself checked out. She is going through treatment now and is doing well. I am going to try and find ways to participate and be supportive this October. - 9/28/2008   12:22:28 AM
  • 22
    Breast cancer awareness is very imp. to me because my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2001 so I always try to do some kind of donation and I walk in my city yearly breast cancer walk in April. - 9/28/2008   12:21:19 AM
  • 21
    Good and important article. Thanks for the reminder!!! - 9/28/2008   12:04:12 AM
  • 20
    I am on a ladies bowling league and what we do every year is for the month of October is play "Penny a Pin". - 9/27/2008   11:07:01 PM
  • 19
    I think this is a good thing, but I am living with breast cancer that came back and spread to my bone. I think besides just supporting the survivors and advocating prevention, those living with metatastic disease need support too. Mine will never be cured, but it can hopefully be kept stable, and so far, I'm lucky enough to still be living pretty much a normal life. - 9/27/2008   7:55:41 PM
  • 18
    My daughter's godmother has survived it twice. My best friend's mom survived the first two tried but this third one is incurable and aggressive. She's on hospice but okay for now.
    My BF, my oldest daughter, and I do the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure every Mother's Day weekend and the American Cancer Society's Making Strides Against Breast Cancer every October. - 9/27/2008   7:13:22 PM
  • 17
    I participate in the campaign every October. My sister is a 3 year survivor thanks to early detection and my aunt is a 28 year survivor of breast cancer.
    I would like to mention that September is ovarian cancer awareness month. Unfortunately this cancer doesn't get as much attention as it should. It is a silent killer of too many. Four years ago I found out I have ovarian cancer. It was found early but it is the type that is never going to go into remission and stay there. I do fundraisers for Relay for Life. I am hoping there will be a cure in my lifetime but if not I hope it will be soon. I will continue to do fundraisers so there will be more money for research. That said, PLEASE continue to support the cancer foundations any way you can and wear pink in October and Teal in September.
    Thanks for making more people aware of Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
    Julie - 9/27/2008   5:29:45 PM
  • 16
    I tried to get my husband wear pink for that reason but he said not over his dead body. Oh well... LOL - 9/27/2008   5:14:01 PM
  • 15
    Thanks for sharing this information! - 9/27/2008   3:51:55 PM
  • 14
    Women who have experienced symptoms like pain, discharge of a coffee color liquid or blood, or feel a lump should see a doctor immediately. It is true that mammograms are performed on women at the age of 40 and older but there are grants that will cover the test so that a basling can be done at 35 if you are at high risk.
    Breast cancer is curable if caught in time. - 9/27/2008   3:44:12 PM
  • 13
    Thanks for the info! I am blessed to have had no one in my family with BC! We have had 2 ladies at work recently go through chemo within the last 3 years though. I have and will continue to support the ACS with hopes of finding a cure!!! - 9/27/2008   3:00:41 PM
  • 12
    I was first diagnosed with B/C in 1997 and underwent a lumpectomy with radiation. In 2005, 5 years to the month, I was diagnosed again with B/C in the same breast. I underwent a mastectomy with reconstruction. Thankfully, I did not have to undergo chemotherapy. My first cancer was diagnosed by mammography and was so small that it would not have been felt with self examination. I can't stress enough how important mammography is. It saved my life. My mother, who is 80, is a breast cancer survivior also. She underwent mastectomy during the time they practically "butchered" women by taking enormous amounts of tissue and muscle. I had reconstruction using the DIEP procedure. It is the "gold standard" for reconstruction. I had to go to New Orleans to have it done in 2005 because no doctors in Tennessee where I live were proficient with this procedure and my own plastic surgeon had never heard of it. If anyone is interested, my doctor. Dr. Frank Dellacroce, has a website which explains the procedure in detail and has before and after phots of patients. I am very pleased with the results. I wish everyone well and please, please have your mammogram. - 9/27/2008   1:15:17 PM
  • BOOKWORM1988
    This was so informative and I plan to wear pink to support Breast Cancer Awareness because I believe it's very important. - 9/27/2008   1:12:38 PM
    I can't emphasize enough about getting your yearly mammogram. I was one of those who thought it would never happen to me, so I didn't bother with the mammograms. Also, I didn't fit into any of the risk factors. My cancer would probably have been caught in the early stages if I had undergone mammograms done and I might have been saved from going through the intense cancer treatment that I received as a result. However, the good news is that I am a 10-year survivor and taking very good care of my body and mind. Pay attention to your body; you know it better than anybody else! - 9/27/2008   1:03:45 PM
  • 9
    I have taken Hormone Replacement Therapy (Premarin) for the past 10 years and after all the research I've done, find that for me, having had a total hysterectomy, it has benefits over the risk. Breastfeeding greatly lowers the risk of Breast Cancer, so as women we should be pushing for young women to nurse their babies, rather than allowing the Baby Milk companies to profit by selling them formula. - 9/27/2008   12:02:35 PM
  • 8
    My mother is a recent breast cancer survivor. There is only one other blood relative who we know of with breast cancer in her family, her maternal aunt, who died in her 80's from breast cancer--undiagnosed until too late. This year, I had a questionable mammogram resulting in a biopsy which proved to be benign. I am guessing that the funding for research like the Komen foundation has really advanced the detection and treatment of breast cancer. I regularly participate in the Komen 3-Day in Boston and support other walkers in other events. We sometime forget that males are also susceptible and at much more risk than women. I am glad to see this article here and to have the reminder to pull out my pink ribbon pins and wear them in October. Thank you! - 9/27/2008   11:47:33 AM
    Don't forget that consumption of alcohol is a major contributor to developing a variety of cancers, including breast cancer. Remember to drink in moderation... that's one 4-5 oz glass of wine for you women and two for men. - 9/27/2008   11:36:54 AM
  • 6
    Thanks for the great information. - 9/27/2008   11:24:55 AM
  • 5
    Thanks for the info, reading this article proves how important a healthy life is. It motivates me to get healthy and stay that way! - 9/27/2008   11:16:53 AM
  • 4
    Good article. Very informative, keep up the good work - 9/27/2008   11:07:57 AM
  • 3
    Yes, men do get breast cancer! My husband at 53 was diagnosed last October with breast cancer. Who would think it would happen to him??? He had a mastomectomy, had chemo treatments and is taking tomaxifin for 5 years. His mother and 2 aunts are breast cancer survivors. There is family history there! So have you husbands, sons & brothers checked at their annual physicals. They CAN get breast cancer too! Happy to say he is cancer free and will continue to have yearly mammagrams and exams every year. This is Breast Cancer Awareness Month.......remind the men in your life to be checked too!
    - 9/27/2008   9:42:47 AM
  • 2
    Great info thanks. - 9/27/2008   9:33:37 AM

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