Today I’ve been wondering about boobs. It’s Breast Cancer Awareness month and I’m thinking about how the disease affects women and their families, if I check mine properly and when I should start having mammograms.
Each year, more than 12,300 women in the UK die of breast cancer and I bet you’ve got a friend or relative who’s been affected by the disease in one way or another.
It’s a subject close to my heart because my own mum died of breast cancer. She was diagnosed when she was 52 after she discovered a lump and went for a mammogram to get it checked out. When she called me to tell me her test results, I did what many people do: I heard the word ‘cancer’ and thought that automatically meant the end. I was devastated.
She went on to live another 8 years which, of course, is no time at all, but she survived longer thanks to the research and medical advances funded by charities such as Cancer Research UK, Breakthrough Breast Cancer and Breast Cancer Care. And more women are surviving breast cancer now than ever before – death rates have fallen by a third since the 1980s. Sadly though, my mum’s cancer eventually spread and there was nothing more the doctors could do.
Because my mum had breast cancer, this gives me an 80% higher chance of being diagnosed with it, so I’m going to do what I can to protect myself. And according to Cancer Research UK, that means not being overweight, taking regular exercise and doing regular breast checks.
If you’re due a screening, or have never had one, make this month the month you get checked out – breast cancer survival rates are better the earlier you’re diagnosed and it could save your life.
(Thanks to Cancer Research UK for statistics)