I defy any of you not to know that October is breast cancer awareness month. The pinkification of this disease reaches endemic proportions and we are subject to an avalanche of pink in the early days of the month. Until the Christmas decorations wipe it out that is. Sigh.
I decided to have a go doing a bit on Facebook to raise awareness. Rather than doing personal posts on my wall, I chose to change my cover photo at regular intervals because the privacy settings for this are already set to public which meant anyone who chose to could share the information without any need for settings to be changed. The following are the pictures & information I shared:
‘For October I am trying to find the least pink pictures I can to share about breast cancer. This is not easy. But it is an important message. Be breast aware, check you breasts, visit https://coppafeel.org/ for info on how to do this, do not skip mammograms, if you’re unsure about something, get it checked.’
‘Did you know there were many different types of Breast Cancer? Inflammatory Breast Cancer is a rare, fast growing type that accounts for between 1% and 4% of all of them. The symptoms can appear over a short space of time, usually days or weeks. The most common ones are:
• warmth & redness of breast causing soreness;
• swelling or heaviness;
• ridges on the skin;
• or the skin may appear pitted like the skin of an orange;
• some women may find a lump while others may experience pain in the breast or nipple;
• some have nipple discharge or the nipple may become inverted.
Diagnosis is often delayed as the symptoms are frequently mistaken for mastitis (infection of the breast). According to American statistics if the cancer has only spread to the lymph nodes, around half of those with Inflammatory Breast Cancer will live for 5 years or longer. If the cancer has spread to other organs, around half will live for 2 years or longer.
To find out more I’d urge you to watch episode one, series two of My Extraordinary Pregnancy on TLC https://youtu.be/UpBNn9Yjy3k still available for download and meet Heidi who was 33yrs old and 9 weeks pregnant when she was diagnosed.
As you can see, a lot more research needs to be done. Breast Cancer Care have more information here: https://www.breastcancercare.org.uk/information-support/facing-breast-cancer/diagnosed-breast-cancer/primary-breast-cancer/inflammatory-breast-cancer‘
‘This October please consider raising funds for Breast Cancer Care. Without them, my own experience would have been a much bleaker one. They provide all kinds of support and up to date information including phone lines, online forums and an email nurse service. They also campaign for better services for both Primary and Secondary Breast Cancer.
Fundraising ideas available here: https://www.breastcancercare.org.uk/get-involved/do-your-own-fundraising
I will gladly donate jam or raffle prizes to any of my friends wishing to take this on.’
‘Don’t forget to check your breasts! Breast Cancer Care have a handy infographic on what you should be checking for here: https://www.breastcancercare.org.uk/information-support/have-i-got-breast-cancer/signs-symptoms-breast-cancer CoppaFeel! provide a reminder service via text or email: https://coppafeel.org/remind-me/ So there’s no excuse!’
‘Secondary breast cancer is incurable breast cancer. It’s when the initial cancer spreads elsewhere in the body. It’s terminal, it’s fatal, it kills. But it can be treated. With the right treatment, people can live with the disease for years. But too often this is not happening .
Less than 5% breast cancer fundraising goes to secondary breast cancer. 78% of Primary breast cancer patients do not know what too look out for. Too many are being referred too late for life prolonging treatment. Breast Cancer Care aims to change this. Please sign up to their Campaign: https://www.breastcancercare.org.uk/secondary‘
‘Breast Cancer: Not just for girls!
Symptoms of breast cancer in men include:
a lump, often painless. This is the most common symptom. It’s usually near the centre, close to the nipple, because most of the breast tissue in men is beneath the nipple. But lumps can also occur away from the nipple
nipple discharge, often blood-stained
a tender or drawn in (inverted) nipple
ulceration or swelling of the chest area.
Occasionally, the lymph nodes (glands) under the arm may also be swollen.
The sooner breast cancer is diagnosed and treated, the better the outcome may be, so it’s important to get any symptoms checked out as quickly as possible.
‘According to Cancer Research UK, drinking even one drink a day increases the risk of breast cancer by 5%. For every drink following that first one, the risk is increased by 7 – 12%.
If you choose to drink, Drinkaware.co.uk recommend the following:
• Keep your risk of developing breast cancer from alcohol low by not drinking more that 14 units a week
• The more you cut down on alcohol, the more you reduce your risk.
• It is best to spread your drinks evenly through the week.
• To cut down on the amount your are drinking, have several drink-free days per week.
‘• Triple negative breast cancers are cancers that don’t have receptors for oestrogen, progesterone or Her2.
• Only 15% of breast cancers are triple negative.
• It is more common in women under 40 and black women.
• Hormone therapy such as tamoxifen does not work for triple negative breast cancer.
• It cannot be treated with the drug Herceptin.
• It is usually treated with surgery, chemotherapy and radiotherapy.
• The risk of triple negative breast cancer recurring is higher than some other types of breast cancer in the first few years, but after five years the risks are similar.