By Connie Goodman-Milone
As October is breast cancer awareness month, I want to inspire every woman in our writers association to know a little more about this disease. According to Susan G. Komen®, among women in the U.S. in 2021, there will be an estimated 281,550 new cases of invasive breast cancer; 49,290 new cases of DCIS (ductal carcinoma in situ); and 43,600 deaths from breast cancer.
It's Not Just About Women:
I want for every man to know that breast cancer can affect men, too. My friend Jim’s mother
and uncle had breast cancer. His uncle survived but his mom sadly died from this disease. From Susan G. Komen®, among men in the U.S. this year, there will be an estimated 2650 new cases of invasive breast cancer and 530 breast cancer deaths. This disease is devastating and real.
I was diagnosed with early stage breast cancer in April 2019. This month, I am a 2.5 year survivor. I’ve gotten annual screening mammograms from the age of 40. This mammogram picked up a cluster of calcifications in my left breast. My diagnosis: high grade DCIS. This is a non-invasive breast cancer. My grade comes with a high rate of recurrence.
I had surgery in May 2019, followed by 23 rounds of radiation and 5 years of aromatase inhibitor (estrogen blocker) medication. If any friends on the board wonder about my sleep hours, these meds can affect sleep. If I write in at 4:00 am, you can understand why.
I am a writer on a mission. I want my fellow writers to know that mammograms save lives. Monthly breast self-exams are important. The earlier a cancerous breast lesion is found, the better the chance of survival. My DCIS breast cancer has a good prognosis. I’m trying to be a good patient.
I have a diagnostic contrast mammogram every year. So grateful for my outstanding mammography radiologist and exceptional doctors with their teams at Sylvester. I play tennis three days a week. Poetry and prayer comfort my soul and spirit. Nature is healing. I have eliminated soy from my diet, as soy is estrogenic. I strive for less sugar, as sugar causes inflammation. Dark chocolate is always beneficial.
The medications have side effects that I can almost live with. I had to change meds as the pain in my writing hand became unbearable. NSAID’s, ice packs, and Tylenol® 8HR for arthritis pain are helping. I also take Caltrate® for bone loss. If I show up in a plaster cast, you will know why.
My heart goes to those women and men with metastatic (stage IV) breast cancer. They are fighting the toughest battle. I am a hospice volunteer who has walked with, attended to, and prayed for patients in the heartbreaking end stage of this disease. I have lost too many friends over time to breast cancer.
We Can Do This!
I have my pink boxing gloves on. I am a dedicated supporter of Susan G. Komen®. As a survivor, I am now a Captain for Team Pink Panthers for the Komen Miami/Ft. Lauderdale MORE THAN PINK Walk. I am fighting for every woman and man with breast cancer. I want every one of us to have a fighting chance to make it.
For further information about breast cancer or for direct help, go to www.Komen.org or call 1-877-GO KOMEN (1-877-465-6636). The American Cancer Society can be reached at www.cancer.org. They have a 24/7 helpline at 1-800-227-2345.
This article previously appeared in the Author’s Voice, October 2021