This article was written by Ashley Jansen, one of our fabulous contributing writers.
This October I would love to debunk some common myths about Breast Cancer.
- Breast Cancer only affects older women. I was 36 when I was diagnosed. While it is true the risk of breast cancer increases, as we grow older, it can occur at any age.
- Breast Cancer only affects women. Although only 1% of breast cancer patients are men, it is something that affects both men and women.
- If breast cancer doesn’t run in your family, you won’t get it. Breast cancer does not run in my family and I tested negative for any gene mutations. I was considered a completely random occurrence.
- Only your mother’s family history of breast cancer can affect your risk. Either side of your family’s history will influence your risk equally. There are 3 main risk factors: family history, starting your menstrual cycle before the age of 12, and/or starting menopause after the age of 55. 60-70% of breast cancer patients (including myself) don’t have any of these risk factors. People with any or all of these risk factors will never develop breast cancer.
- Using antiperspirants causes breast cancer. Drinking caffeine, eating sugar, using antiperspirants or deodorants, standing close to microwaves, using cell phones, contact with someone who has breast cancer, and high-fat foods DO NOT cause breast cancer. The cause of breast cancer (like most cancers) is essentially unknown. Cancer grows when a cell’s DNA is damaged, but why or how the cell gets damaged is unknown.
- If I am at high risk for breast cancer there is nothing I can do about it. FALSE. If you have a family history or you tested positive for gene mutations, especially the BRCA gene, there is still much you can do to reduce your risk. Minimize alcohol consumption, stop smoking/vaping, exercise regularly, and talk to your doctor about medications or surgeries that might help (such as a prophylactic mastectomy or ovary removal).
- A breast cancer diagnosis is an automatic death sentence. 80% of women diagnosed with breast cancer live at least 10 years, most longer, and many much longer after diagnosis and treatment.
- A monthly self-breast exam is the best way to diagnose breast cancer. Although self-exams are recommended, the best way to diagnose is through mammograms and sonograms. My doctor found my cancer during my annual GYN appointment. I highly recommend that if you have not had an annual exam recently please call and make an appointment ASAP. And if you are 40 or older and have never had a mammogram please don’t keep putting it off.
October is now more known for pink than it is orange. Pink shows up in the grocery store, college and pro football players are wearing it, and even bars serve pink drinks. I saw an advertisement for pink bowling balls and the event was ‘Bowling for Breasts’. Oh, good grief! Let me just say, speaking as a breast cancer survivor, there is a line you can cross, even if you have good intentions. Please don’t go bowl for breasts with a pink ball (there’s a sentence I never thought I would write).
I have listed some better ways you can support Breast Cancer Research and reputable organizations where at least 80% of your money goes directly to support research, patients, and treatments. Rachael and I go to the Pink Affair annually and would love to have you as our guest. But if you are more of a runner, walker, tennis or golf player, would like to dress up for a gala, or even have a wedding dress you could donate – get involved and help support not just pink, but breast cancer research this October.
Beneficial Ways to Support Breast Cancer Awareness in October and All Year (in order by date):
- ALL YEAR: Buy the Breast Cancer Awareness postage stamps at your local USPS. It is $13 per book of 20 (which is only $2 more than normal, but 100% of that $2 goes straight to research). It’s the only stamp I buy now – I even use them for my Christmas cards. It may seem like a small amount – but it all makes a difference!!
- ALL YEAR: https://www.bridesagainstbreastcancer.org – donate your wedding dress and/or bridal accessories to support breast cancer research and early detection
- OCTOBER 5-6: Think Pink:: Live music, fun, food, & festivities at Scottsdale Farms in Milton. CLICK HERE
- OCTOBER 5-6: https://itsthejourney.org – specifically helping Georgia Grantees -2 day walk
- OCTOBER 16-17: Country Club of the South – benefitting http://www.playforpink.org
- OCTOBER 18: CLICK HERE – Forsyth Location– all you tennis players go and help support Northside Mammograms!
- OCTOBER 24: https://www.tpagalaatl.org – the Atlanta Gala supporting BCRF (http://www.bcrf.org)
- OCTOBER 26: http://makingstrides.acsevents.org – Making Strides of Atlanta – supporting American Cancer Society Research for Breast Cancer
- NOVEMBER 2: CLICK HERE – 5K
- NOVEMBER 6: Eat, Drink & Be Giving at Fermented Wine Boutique in downtown Alpharetta. CLICK HERE
- NOVEMBER 23: https://itsthejourney.org – specifically helping Georgia Grantees
- MARCH 28, 2020: https://myturningpoint.org/the-pink-affair – A fun evening to support Atlanta’s best rehabilitation clinic specifically for breast cancer patients
- MAY 10, 2020: http://www.muddyprincess.com – run in an upcoming race that benefits https://thebreastcancercharities.org – there are many other locations if you are looking for a fun girls trip that are coming up sooner
Sources for my facts:
- Personal experience
- https://www.usatoday.com/story/money/personalfinance/2017/10/03/breast-cancer-charity-ratings-julia-louis-dreyfus/714899001/ (Although I am thankful for the Susan G. Komen foundation for birthing the charge in bringing awareness to breast cancer and the pink October craze, the foundation itself actually ranks lowest for breast cancer foundations that are most beneficial.)
If you or someone you know has recently been diagnosed with breast cancer I am an open book and would love to help anyway possible. Email me: firstname.lastname@example.org
Ashley Jansen is wife of 17 years to Mark and mom to three boys, Hamilton (12), Luke (8), and Garrett (5). Originally from Texas, she has lived in Forsyth County for the last 17 years. She graduated from Baylor University with a BBA degree in 2001 (before Chip & Joanna Gaines put Waco on the map). She loves Mexican food, watching football and baseball, reading a good book, making Excel spreadsheets, and prefers Diet Dr. Pepper over Diet Coke. She was a teacher at Forsyth Central High School for 3 years, on staff with North Point Ministries, Inc. for 7 years, and a stay-at-home-mom for another 10 years. She recently started working full-time at Browns Bridge Church where she and her husband are also active members serving as adult small group leaders, 2to1 premarital mentors, and GroupLaunch connectors. She serves on the Advisory Team of Titus2 Mentoring Women. She is a breast cancer survivor but still prefers purple over pink.