Breast Cancer Awareness Month is a time when I can’t help but pause and reflect on my health journey. As a website designer and member of the GW Homes marketing team, I was diagnosed with breast cancer at the young age of 34 years old and am proud to say that I persevered through two surgeries, four rounds of chemo, and a seemingly endless barrage of doctor’s appointments and proactive preventative treatments to emerge “cancer free!”
Even though we caught it early, it was an arduous journey. But the community of women diagnosed with breast cancer is incredibly strong and supportive. I am so grateful for the love, encouragement and support I received from other survivors. It’s a bond we’d rather not share, but we know that we are stronger when we stick together.
Now, I am very passionate about educating my friends, family and the community about how you can decrease your risk of developing breast cancer and be more proactive about maintaining your overall health!
As a society, we also have a long way to go in ensuring health equity and adequate healthcare for people of all races and income levels, as breast cancer mortality is still up to 40% higher for minority women.
In a recent Ken Burns documentary called “The Gene,” they discuss how cancer is being increasingly viewed as a hereditary disease with environmental risk factors. So that means you might be more or less predisposed to developing some kind of cancer based on your family history, and your environment and other risk factors might increase or decrease your risk further from there.
If you have a family history of cancer, I recommend talking to your primary care doctor about a referral to a genetic counselor to learn more about how genetic testing may help you understand your hereditary cancer risk. Medical grade labs such as Ambry Genetics deliver much more accurate and thorough results compared to consumer-facing labs like 23andMe, and your test results are private and protected by HIPAA.
And for anyone who hears those terrible words they don’t want to hear, rest assured that there has never been a better time to be diagnosed. We are on the verge of new, innovative treatments that are helping save lives, and new clinical trials emerge all the time!
The incredibly supportive breast cancer community will be there to support you or any loved ones who may need support. Don’t hesitate to call the American Cancer Society’s main office for more information or caregiver resources. ACS also has a program called Reach To Recovery designed to match newly diagnosed patients with volunteers who are willing to share their stories of recovery.
I’m grateful for this opportunity each October to look back and reflect on my journey, and I’m thankful for the overwhelming love and support I received during my journey from all kinds of friends, family, and colleagues, including the GW Homes team.
I hope you will take a moment to pause and think about your own proactive health and ruminate on some simple ways you may be able to adjust your daily routines or lifestyle on the lifelong journey to health and wellness, and encourage your loved ones to get those mammograms!
Happy Breast Cancer Awareness Month!
Chief Creativity Officer