It is rare not to find someone who has experienced the impact of breast cancer at some point in your life.

The person impacted may have been you, someone you love, a friend, family member, co-worker or neighbor.

The diagnosis is scary. The treatment is difficult and unnerving.

If you haven’t been impacted at some point, it’s quite likely you will.

We will see a lot of pink this month – T-shirts, colored hair and other things. It’s Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

For many women and their families, the awareness runs from Jan. 1 through Dec. 31 every year. They know how out-of-the-blue breast cancer can strike and they understand intimately how paralyzing the diagnosis is and the uncertain journey that awaits.

  • about 1 in 8 U.S. women will develop invasive breast cancer over the course of her lifetime.
  • in 2019, an estimated 268,600 new cases of invasive breast cancer are expected to be diagnosed in women in the U.S., along with 62,930 new cases of non-invasive breast cancer.
  • about 2,670 new cases of invasive breast cancer are expected to be diagnosed in men in 2019. A man’s lifetime risk of breast cancer is about 1 in 883.
  • about 85 percent of breast cancers occur in women who have no family history of breast cancer. These occur because of genetic mutations that happen as a result of the aging process and life in general, rather than inherited mutations.

Cancer never is fair, and certainly that’s true of breast cancer.

If you know someone with breast cancer, support them and listen to them. Try to understand their fears. Laugh with them, cry with them and be a shoulder for them to lean on.

If you haven’t been diagnosed or know of no one who has dealt with breast cancer, be an advocate of self-exams and mammograms, especially for people 50 years old and older, and watch for these warning signs from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

  • any change in the size or 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.

And always remember once the breast cancer diagnosis shock ends, face it with fierce determination.

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