Breast Cancer Awarenessby Mary Clymer on October 13, 2020
October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
You Can Help By Spreading the Word.
According to the CDC more than 250,000 women get breast cancer each year in the United States and 42,000 die from the disease.
Outside of skin cancer it is the most common cancer for American women. Men are at a lower risk. About 1 out of every 100 breast cancer diagnosed in the U.S is found in a man.
Mammograms are the best way to find breast cancer early, when it is easier to treat and before it is big enough to feel or cause symptoms.
What Are the Symptoms?
Symptoms vary from person to person and some have no symptoms at all.
Most common Symptoms include...
Change in the size or the shape of the breast.
Pain in any area of the breast.
Nipple discharge other than breast milk (including blood).
A new lump in the breast or underarm.
If you have any signs that worry you, see your doctor right away!
Most breast cancers are found in women who are 50 years old or older. However, breast cancer also affects younger women.
Take Raina Borsum, a healthy 31 year old Mom with her whole life ahead of her. At her age a mammogram hadn’t entered the picture. She found out in a way that a lot of young mothers do, her child quit taking milk from her breast.
I had a chance to chat with Raina recently and asked her about her experience. Everything from hearing the news to treatment.
Here’s what she had to say.
“I’ve always been aware that breast cancer is so prevalent. I still didn’t see what was coming, and I can almost guarantee if it happens to you, you probably won’t have seen it coming either. At 31 years old, with a son that was just shy of two, I received news that would knock the wind out of me, and quite literally drop me to my knees; stage IV breast cancer.”
“How was it possible? I was young, healthy and active, and had just had a physical, which included a breast exam, just a mere month and a half prior to finding that mass in my breast. It took only one more month for it to grow to the size of a baseball.
I was soon thrown into a whirlwind of doctor appointments and scans. It almost seemed pointless to change out of my hospital gown. Breast cancer wasn’t in my plans. I had a son to raise! But, the fact of the matter is; No one plans on this happening to them.”
Raina is part of the long-time wait staff at the Melrose Grill Steahouse in downtown Renton. Odds are you’ve crossed paths with this upbeat witty inspiration if you’ve ever enjoyed a steak here.
She does her best to share her story very candidly to help spread awareness. Hoping others won’t sink into the dark hole she found herself in. She knows if it wasn’t her it would be someone else, so she continues to fight for all women going through their own breast cancer battle.
Typically you’d see a lot of pink ribbons during October. Marches and fundraisers where thousands come together to celebrate the life of a survivor or a loved one who has passed on.
Victoria Do is a Renton Chamber Ambassador and the Senior Community Development Manager for the American Cancer Society (ACS). She told me that it’s been a real struggle this year. With everything going on in the world the ACS felt that it was not an appropriate time to seek out donations. Donations that make up a large sum of the research money.
The ACS instead decided to downsize the staff and use that funding to help move research along.
Donations are down because of this, but breast cancer hasn’t taken a break. Women are still being diagnosed. They are scared and looking for the community support that we all deserve.
The ACS and other huge organizations like Susan G Komen for the Cure do an incredible job helping to provide those needed connections.
With essentially all events being cancelled this year we are all more isolated and alone --- imagine the added stress of going through cancer treatment during Covid.
One of their main focuses has been connecting newly diagnosed breast cancer patients with a survivor through a program called Reach to Recovery. This amazing opportunity matches trained volunteer breast cancer survivors to those living with breast cancer. Making it possible for those living with the diagnosis to get matched to someone their age, or with similar life situations to hear how they made it through. Providing an understanding and hopeful outlook during an often dark and isolated experience.
“I believe this year’s Breast Cancer Awareness Month is more important than any before” says Raina, “I’m afraid so many women will avoid going to get screened because of COVID. I’m afraid those that are hearing that they have cancer for the first time will feel even more alone and isolated because of COVID.”
Raina wants to stress you don’t put off getting your mammogram. Fiercely reminding us….
“If it happens to you, like it did me, remember this, Let your faith be bigger than your fear.”
If you are newly diagnosed or are in the midst of your own battle Raina pleads, “Please, put yourself out there, and try to connect with other women going through it, or that have been through it.
They are your beacon of light. They are your hope. You are not alone, and it is possible to get to the other side.”
Raina made it through 16 rounds of chemo, a mastectomy, and 6 weeks of radiation. Currently, she is considered N.E.D., which stands for no evidence of disease. Which is better news, than she could have possibly imagined!
Everyones doing it. And what a great way to social distance while at the same showing your support. This program, Making Strides, is more than just a drive-by, it’s how ACS is fighting back against the pandemic and breast cancer. By joining these efforts you are raising money to fight this deadly disease.
This event will be happening regionally on Saturday, October 17th. Taking place in Northgate. As with all fun parades, dressing up both yourself and your vehicle is encouraged.
Valley Medical Center here in Renton has its own resource center.
Panera Bagel for Breast Cancer
Panera is supporting Making Strides by donating .25c from every ribbon bagel sold. Pick one up during the entire month of October at all 24 Western WA locations.
You Can Make a Difference!
Of course the best way to help support the cause is through a donation. However there are other ways to get involved and make a difference. For those who can’t give, it is being asked that you share information on your social media account.
Don’t forget to tag a survivor.
You can also contact Victoria Do to find out about ways to volunteer.
Raina (picture above with her son) believes there has been a silver lining to the experience. She’s met some amazing people. She told me, “I honestly feel like aside from my son, it has brought a purpose to my life. I feel like I was put on this earth, and maybe put through this experience, so that I could help others. It has shown me that beautiful humans exist, and there are a lot of them out there. I’ve had strangers, along with people that I had long lost touch with show me incredible compassion. It has given me a whole new appreciation for life, and aside from the obstacle that is COVID, I want to spend every second I have living, loving, and hopefully making a difference.”
That’s what I call taking back your power. Turning lemons into lemonade as Raina always does.