Don’t Be An Ostrich About Your Boobs

Think about eight of your female friends or family members. One of them is likely to be diagnosed with invasive breast cancer. Prior to my own diagnosis I had no knowledge of the statistics, even though my own mom had breast cancer in 1999 at the age of 53. Fast forward to 2015 and at 49, I’m in the same boat. I thought I was informed and vigilant about my health and risks for breast cancer but that was really a bunch of BS and result of the ostrich effect. I thought I had abandoned my ostrich ways back in my late teens and early 20’s, when I thought just not going to the mailbox would eventually make by VISA bill disappear. Or if I ignore the photo radar ticket and act like I never got it they’ll just let it go and no way would they issue a bench warrant. Even though I don’t pay them, GMAC wouldn’t dream of coming to my house and taking my car. Although I had mammograms faithfully, I never did self exams and never really thought about my breasts except during pregnancy and post partum when I needed them to pump breast milk. I would ignore unpleasant topics like lumps and bumps and cysts in breasts. My head was firmly in the sand.

According to the CDC, each year in the United States, about 220,000 cases of breast cancer are diagnosed in women and about 2,000 in men. About 40,000 women and 400 men in the U.S. die each year from breast cancer. Not counting some kinds of skin cancer, breast cancer in the United States is—

  • The most common cancer in women, no matter your race or ethnicity.
  • The most common cause of death from cancer among Hispanic women.
  • The second most common cause of death from cancer among white, black, Asian/Pacific Islander, and American Indian/Alaska Native

* About 1 in 8 U.S. women will develop invasive breast cancer over the course of her lifetime (about 12%)

Breast cancer is the most common cancer in women (not counting melanoma). I can’t believe I didn’t know that. I think I thought lung cancer was. There are always people on TV and the Internet championing funding research for various cancers and other diseases. It’s hard because you can’t support and fight for everything. But to think this year we will lose 40,000 of our mothers, grandmothers, sisters and friends to breast cancer is pretty staggering.  Talking turkey about these statistics scares people  and there are a LOT of women who say “oh I know I’m late for my mammo” or “I know I should do self exams” like admission makes it okay. There are no guarantees in life but I WISH I had paid attention and knew then what I know now and I’m telling everyone until they tell me to shut up. And probably not even then.