October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Breast Cancer affects hundreds of thousands of women in the U.S. every year. In 2006, 191,410 women were diagnosed with breast cancer and 40,820 of them died from this disease. Aside from non-melanoma skin cancer, breast cancer is the most common form of cancer in women. Breast cancer is the number one cause of cancer death in Hispanic women. It is the second most common cause of cancer death in white, black, Asian/Pacific Islander, and American Indian/Alaska Native women.
Breast cancer can have a devastating impact on one’s mental health. Chronic illness such as breast cancer takes a heavy toll on caregivers as well as patients. Although feelings of sadness, worry and emotional stress about a loved one’s cancer diagnosis is normal, serious emotional disturbances can make the battle against breast cancer harder for everyone. If a caregiver is experiencing sleep disturbances (over sleeping or not sleeping at all), lack of appetite, and feelings of helplessness, hopelessness and despair immediate help from a mental health professional should be sought.
What You Can Do
- Educate yourself on the signs and symptoms of breast cancer. Lack of awareness and education about breast cancer has been linked to higher rates of late stage breast cancer diagnosis and death, especially in African American Women.
- Get involved! Become a member of a breast cancer organization such as Susan G. Komen for the Cure or participate in a breast cancer run/walk.
- Most importantly, visit your doctor regularly and get your annual physical completed including breast and pap smear exams
Join with us next year as we Race for the Cure at the upcoming Susan G Komen Race for the Cure in Washington DC June 4, 2011.