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Bring Your Brave, It’s Breast Cancer Awareness Month

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This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Bring Your Brave campaign for IZEA. All opinions are 100% mine.

October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month and it is very near and dear to my heart as I lost my great-grandmother to Breast Cancer.  My great-grandma Lillian Pickelsimer was a grandma like no other!  She never resigned herself to being old.  She was a hoot and you never knew what she was going to say or do.  She was over 60 when she decided to go parasailing for the first time and I’m probably one of the few people who has a picture of their great-grandma in a hula skirt and bikini top (she was 61 yrs. old at the time)!  Grandma was diagnosed with breast cancer around 1990 and had her lymph nodes removed followed by chemo.  In 1994 she was hospitalized and it was found that the cancer had spread to her liver.  Grandma died Oct. 6th, 1994 at Baptist Hospital at the age of 75 and on that same day in labor and delivery a baby Pickelsimer was born.  Not a member of our immediate family, but a distant relative I’m sure. If grandma had survived, she’d be 91 yrs. old and still kicking it up and having a good time.   I miss her still! This is a picture of her at my high school graduation.

Breast cancer is the most common cancer in women in the United States. 11% of all cases of breast cancer in the United States affect women under the age of 45, however, many young women do not know they are at risk. And did you know that young women face a unique, threat – when they are diagnosed with breast cancer? When this happens, it’s more likely to be hereditary, more often diagnosed at a later stage, and often more aggressive and difficult to treat.

I know that Cancer isn’t fun to talk about and it can be quite scary. But every woman can benefit from learning the risk factors for breast cancer. In addition to the risk factors all women face, some risk factors put young women at a higher risk for getting breast cancer at a young age.

  • If you are under the age of 45, you may have a higher risk for breast cancer if-
  • You have close relatives who were diagnosed with breast cancer before the age of 45 or ovarian cancer at any age, especially if more than one relative was diagnosed or if a male relative had breast cancer.
  • You have changes in certain breast cancer genes (BRCA1 and BRCA2), or have close relatives with these changes, but have not been tested yourself.
  • You have Ashkenazi Jewish heritage.
  • You received radiation therapy to the breast or chest during childhood or early adulthood.
  • You have had breast cancer or certain other breast health problems, such as lobular carcinoma in situ (LCIS), ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS), atypical ductal hyperplasia, or atypical lobular hyperplasia.
  • You have been told that you have dense breasts on a mammogram.

The CDC encourages women to take three important steps to understand their breast cancer risk:

  • Know how your breasts normally look and feel and talk to your doctor if you notice anything unusual.
  • Talk to your relatives about your family history of breast or ovarian cancer. Use CDC’s worksheet as a guide for your conversation. https://www.knowbrca.org/downloads/FCHWorksheet.pdf
  • Talk to your doctor about your risk.

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I just turned 40 this month and it’s time for me to schedule my mammogram. Am I scared? Heck ya, but knowing what my grandmother went through is enough for me to take that next step.

Bring Your Brave was launched in 2015 by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and is its first breast cancer campaign specific to young women. Bring Your Brave aims to inspire young women to learn their risk for breast cancer, talk with their health care provider about their risk, and live a breast healthy lifestyle. The campaign tells women’s stories about young women whose lives have been affected by breast cancer. These stories about prevention, exploring personal and family history, risk, and talking with health care providers bring to life the idea that young women can be personally affected by breast cancer. Check out this link to learn more about breast cancer in young women.

So I am asking you to stand up and take the “Bring Your Brave” talk to your health care provider.

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