Breast cancer hit our family like a ton of bricks. Within a six-month span of time, my mom’s older sister was diagnosed with breast cancer and so was my mom. While my mom did fine after having a double mastectomy, my aunt died from complications after surgery. My nurse practitioner assured me that I was probably not at an increased risk since both my mom and my aunt were older than 60 when they were diagnosed. That doesn’t stop her though from reminding me every year that with my family history, I can’t miss a mammogram and that I have to keep breast cancer prevention in the back of my mind.
I appreciate the reminders because with the time that has lapsed between then and now, it’s gotten easier to think of those annual squeezes as more of an inconvenience than the disease-detecting miracle tools that they really are. They also serve as a yearly check-in with myself about whether I’m living in a way that will keep me as healthy as possible. While we can’t do anything about the most significant risk factors for breast cancer – which are being a woman, getting older and genetics – the good news is that there are steps that we can take as part of our regular lifestyle that will go a long way toward breast cancer prevention. Read more