Thursday, October 17, 2013

Breast Cancer Awareness - Guest Blogger Jen Vandermyde

Please don't think breast cancer won't happen to you just because you are young, or because you don't have a family history of it. I was 43 when I was diagnosed (which I consider to be fairly young), and I don't have any known history of it in my family. My grandmother had a lump removed when she was young, but we are not certain what the diagnosis was. So, when my lump was removed, it was tested for any possible genetic links (like the BRCA gene) and it turned up negative.

I have a friend, Jen, whose history is similar to mine, but she was even younger than me when she was diagnosed. She was 37.

And, MEN, you are not exempt from getting it either! It is more rare in men, but it does happen. Check out this article from The American Cancer SocietyWHAT IS BREAST CANCER IN MEN?

So, in light of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, I want to share what my friend, Jen, posted recently on her blog TO SOAR ON EAGLE WINGS. I hope it encourages all who are reading this to keep a watchful eye on yourselves. Early detection is a key to survival.

Thanks for allowing me to share this, Jen...
October is Breast Cancer Awareness month. It’s kind of hard to not know that with all the pink around isn’t it? And I’ll admit that I’m not a big one for huge advertising promotions. So often the original good cause gets lost in all the rush to brand every product to show that the companies care. I’m not even really a pink-loving girl. But I do feel strongly that young women – all women - should take this disease seriously. And because of that I thought I’d write a little bit about it this month.
I went to my ob/gyn yesterday to discuss my upcoming surgery. I’ll write more on that later when I have it all figured out. While I was there though, she told me that she uses my case with her young patients. She of course does not use my name, and I’m glad she tells other women what has happened to me. You see I didn’t fit into a high-risk category. I don’t have anyone in my family who has had breast cancer except for a great aunt and my cousin. It is true that my cousin was also young when she got breast cancer but both of us have had genetic testing and both of us do not carry the BRCA gene. That means that with today’s knowledge of breast cancer our cancers are not known to be caused by a faulty gene that we inherited. I think a lot of women think that the genetic factor is bigger than it is. I know I hid behind that fact. I thought that the young women that got cancer were mostly women that had huge family histories of the disease so they would know to be concerned. But that simply is not true.
I also used some of the research findings to justify why I didn’t need to worry about breast cancer. Research has shown that having your first baby before 30 and breastfeeding helps with your risk. I had both of those areas covered. According to studies I should have been in an average risk group for breast cancer. But I still got it. At the age of 37.
I’m not saying this to scare everyone. I do not believe that God wants us to live our lives in a state of constant fear that something bad might happen. He tells us to trust Him and not to worry. We know that if we are His children then nothing can happen to us that He does not allow. I fully believe all this is true.
No, the reason I tell you about my story is to remind you that even though what happened to me is rare it can happen –only 5-7 percent of women that get breast cancer are under the age of 40. I don’t want you to be fearful of it. But I do want you to be aware. I had had a baseline mammogram done at age 35. It did not show anything of concern. I also went yearly to my doctor. But I was not doing monthly self checks. And I wish that I had been. I am now for sure! I do not still beat myself up about it though. God in His wonderful mercy allowed me to find my cancer anyway. I found it while putting on my bra. 
I just want to encourage all of you women to make sure that you are taking care of yourself in this regard. Go get that first mammogram that you have been putting off. It won’t be your favorite part of the day, but it isn’t the end of the world either. Do those self checks. Make sure you are getting a yearly physical. Do your part and then trust God with the rest. Trust Him that He loves you more than anyone else does. Trust Him that He will help you through anything that might come your way!

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