Breast Cancer - Why it's So Important to Raise Awareness (And Not Only in October)

breast cancer awareness, personal story

A little over 10 years ago, my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer. It was a devastating time for all of us, especially for me and my three brothers - we were too young and naive to really comprehend what was happening. Like most kids in High School, I had never thought about the possibility of something like this happening to my family and especially not to my own mom. After I found out, I locked myself in the bathroom and cried for ours - this couldn't be happening!

It was terrible to see her go through the pain of chemo therapy, the fear and uncertainty and I will always look up to her for her strength and willpower. The one thing I will remember forever is that she never wanted to be seen as weak, even in times of great pain. She didn't want people outside our family know about her sickness and to feel sorry for her. She kept her head high up, higher than she probably should have (letting your guard down does not mean that you are weak!), and won the battle against cancer. 

What is breast cancer?
Breast cancer is a disease in which malignant (cancer) cells form in the tissues of the breast. The damaged cells can invade surrounding tissue, but with early detection and treatment, most people continue a normal life.*

Somebody with one first-degree relative with breast cancer is at almost twice the risk
Knowing that I would be at a higher risk of suffering from breast cancer made me more aware of the illness and especially of how to detect it. Taking important steps, like getting regular breast exams done (every year) and keeping a healthy lifestyle, can help you to stay healthy and improve the odds against breast cancer. 

Early detection is the key 
According to the American Cancer Society, when breast cancer is detected early and is in the localized stage, patience have a 5-year relative survival rate of 100%. You can sign up free for an early detection plan on the website Other than that, it is important to get regular breast exams (every year) or (when over 40 years old) mammograms. 

Facts about breast cancer in the U.S. 
  • One in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime
  • It is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in women and...
  • ... the second leading cause of death among women
  • Although breast cancer in men is rare, about 2,150 men will be diagnosed with breast cancer (of which an approximate of 410 will die each year)
  • Every year, over 220,000 women in the U.S. will be diagnosed with breast cancer (of which more than 40,000 will die)

mother and daughter, breast cancer
My mom and I the day before I moved to the U.S. (Oct 7, 2012)

Source: nationalbreastcancer // photo source: weheartit

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