I’ve seen the effects of breast cancer first hand. My grandmother is a survivor and we lost my aunt to it in 2012. Seeing someone you love….battle with something so life-changing….is difficult to say the least. But some of the greatest lessons I’ve learned about breast cancer came from working in the field.

In 2015, I took a job working for an event company. The company was responsible for helping Susan G. Komen put on their annual Race for the Cure. It was a temporary position but I knew that I would love it so I didn’t care. I knew the position would definitely be an emotional one for me. I didn’t know if I was going to cry everyday or what but I knew that it was for me. Working from home, putting on events, and traveling the local area is right up my alley. What I did not know was that the position would have life-long effects on me.

One of my favorite parts about the job was the people. And when I say people, I don’t mean my coworkers (I was working from home remember? So I only saw them on race day). I’m talking about the women who are survivors. The women who were passionate about the race. The women (and men) who were participating in an effort to support someone. Those stories are the ones that had an impact on me.

You see, they were all very different. But we all had something in common. Whether it was for a mom, sister, auntie, cousin, or coworker. Or if they were walking in support, memory, or just to spread knowledge. Looking back now, I know it was meant for me to take that job. It helped me through the healing process of losing my aunt. It shed light on my feelings and let me know that my family wasn’t the only ones going through this. Whenever someone asks me about my favorite job, I always tell them it was this one.

What I learned about Breast Cancer

  1. If something feels different, check it out! There was a lady who was diagnosed with breast cancer. She felt like something was off with her body and could not figure it out. Doctors checked her for just about everything and every time they came back with nothing. Her mammogram even came back normal. It wasn’t until she went back in for a scan of her chest that they found the cancer. It was in the tissues in between her breasts. Being persistent about her health is how she is able to tell her story today.
  2. Genetic testing is available but can be tricky. I met another lady who told me about getting tested for the breast cancer genes (BRCA1 & BRCA2). Everyone carries these genes but they become a problem when they mutate or have abnormalities. However having an abnormal gene doesn’t mean you will get the disease.
  3. It is possible to have cystic breast tissue. Many women find smaller lumps in their breast and automatically assume it is cancer. Sometimes having cystic breast tissue is the cause. Like cancer, there is no cure for the cysts but they don’t need to be removed unless they are large or cause pain.
  4. Breast cancer mortality rates are higher in black women. Although black women are less likely than white women to be diagnosed with breast cancer, it is more likely to be fatal in black women. Black women also tend to be diagnosed at a younger age than white women.

It is recommended that you do a breast self-exam once a month. If you are unsure about anything you feel, check with your primary care doctor. Remember, awareness and acting early is key!

Breast self-exam image pulled from http://www.nationalbreastcancer.org/breast-self-exam