Breast Cancer Awareness Campaign: Knowledge is Power
During Breast Cancer Awareness Month, we're on a mission to share crucial insights about early detection and empower you with valuable knowledge.
In the United States, 1 in 8 women will receive a breast cancer diagnosis during her lifetime. In 2023, approximately 297,790 women and 2,800 men are expected to be diagnosed with invasive breast cancer. However, there is reason for optimism! When detected at its earliest, localized stages, the 5-year relative survival rate stands at an impressive 99%. Ongoing advancements in early detection and treatment methods have significantly improved breast cancer survival rates in recent times, resulting in a thriving community of over 3.8 million breast cancer survivors across the country.
As an intimate apparel brand, we deeply understand the significance of breasts to women. In this article, we are privileged to share the remarkable stories of five inspiring breast cancer thrivers and fighters that we had the privilege to interview. These individuals embody resilience, courage, and hope in the face of adversity. By highlighting their experiences, we aim to shed light on the challenges they have overcome and the invaluable lessons they have learned along the way.
Together, we can create a stronger, more compassionate community that stands united against this formidable foe.
How was the cancer initially detected? For example, through a breast self-exam (BSE), a clinical breast exam (CBE), or an annual mammogram?
Breast cancer detection methods can vary among individuals, and here are some diverse experiences of how it was initially identified. One person discovered a visible lump through self-examination, leading to an ultrasound and mammogram. Another individual received a diagnosis during a mammogram after a series of normal screenings and additional tests. A third person's cancer was detected after it had spread to the bones, prompting an MRI. Lastly, one individual easily detected their tumor through a self-examination due to its proximity to the skin's surface.
“My tumor was very close to the surface of the skin so with a self-examination it was easily detected.”
- Kristin Mageros 41, diagnosed with Stage 2 in April 2015, went into remission February 2016.
Photographed here is Kristin Mageros. Click here to read more about her story.
Six Ways to perform a Self-Exam
We asked 5 breast cancer fighters and thrivers for some of their favorite tips or resources they'd like to share with other breast cancer survivors or patients, and this is what they shared:
- "Anticancer" by David Servan-Schreiber
- "Breakthrough Medicine" by Suzanne Somers
- "Mommy Has a Boo-Boo: Explaining Breast Cancer to Children" by Marci Greenberg Cox
- "You Can Heal Your Life" by Louise Hay
- "Heart Thoughts" by Louise Hay
Online Communities and Resources:
- Facebook Group for Breast Cancer Under 40
- Talk to your local hospital for resources
- Instagram @IAMKELLYTHOMAS for inspiration
- The Young Breast Cancer Project (youngbreastcancer.org) for building a community of young survivors and thrivers and advocating for early diagnosis.
- Wildfire Breast Cancer Magazine for writing workshops and sharing stories.
- The Boobie Queen Company for crown donations, retreats, and healing opportunities
Emotional Support and Healing:
- Find your people and connect with friends, peers, or online groups who understand your struggles.
- Validate your feelings and combat isolation by discussing your experiences with those who have gone through similar challenges.
- Take advantage of any offered help, whether during your battle with cancer or after beating it.
- Continue doing what makes you happy and surround yourself with supportive friends and family.
- Remember the inspiring words of Jane Markowitz/Nightbirde: "You are more than the worst thing that happened to you."
These recommendations collectively highlight the importance of finding a supportive community, utilizing available resources, and focusing on emotional well-being during the breast cancer journey.
“My local hospital arranged for me to have a free oncology massage and introduced me to my cancer care exercise and support group.”
- Maria 38, diagnosed with Stage 3 Breast Cancer. Click here to read more about her story.
What advice or message would you offer to women who have not been diagnosed with breast cancer but are considering self-checks and proactive measures for early detection and prevention?
In the heartfelt responses that we received, there was a common theme of embracing life's small joys and being kind, both to others and oneself. Early detection of breast cancer is stressed as crucial, especially with rising instances in women under 40. The importance of knowing your own body and advocating for your health is important, including regular self-breast exams and seeking genetic testing if there's a family history. Overall, the message is clear: prioritize your health, trust your instincts, and take proactive steps to safeguard your well-being, as cancer can strike at any age, regardless of one's lifestyle.
“I felt weird lumps in my breast that would sometimes hurt, and I assumed it was from breastfeeding. I kept it to myself because breast cancer never crossed my mind.”
– Devon Sanders 36, Stage 4 diagnosis in June 2021
Photographed here is Devon Sanders. Click here to read more about her story.
“Be your own health advocate! If you see something, say something. If you feel something, say something.”
- Heather 39, diagnosed with Stage 1B with Ductal Carcinoma ER+ and HER2- and then diagnosed with Stage 4 Metastatic in 2021.
Photographed here is Heather ringing the bell at the end of her radiation treatment. Click here to read more about her story.
Insights into Early Detection, Screening Guidelines, and Genetic Testing:
- Early Detection: Early detection of breast cancer remains a critical focus in healthcare. Mammography, clinical breast exams, and breast self-exams are still important tools for detecting breast cancer in its early stages when it is more treatable.
- Screening Guidelines: Breast cancer screening guidelines may vary by country and organization. It's important to follow the guidelines recommended by your local healthcare authorities and discuss screening options with your healthcare provider, as they may change over time based on new research and advancements in medical knowledge.
- Genetic Testing: Genetic testing for hereditary breast cancer genes, such as BRCA1 and BRCA2, has become more accessible. Identifying individuals with a high genetic risk of breast cancer allows for personalized prevention and treatment strategies.
What advice would you offer for supporting a loved one who is going through breast cancer?
When supporting a loved one facing breast cancer, it's crucial to be sensitive to their needs and preferences. Always ask what they want to discuss and avoid making assumptions or bringing up unrelated stories. Listening attentively and being present is more valuable than trying to fix things. Supporting organizations that fund research can make a difference. Sending thoughtful gifts for their children to enjoy independently can offer much-needed relief. Offer advice only when asked and avoid clichés. Encourage them to focus on one day at a time rather than dwelling on the uncertain future. Ultimately, emphasize the importance of looking ahead with hope, reminding them of their inner strength, and not allowing cancer to diminish their love for life and laughter.
“Listen more than talk, sit with more than try to fix.”
- Erin Perkins 37, diagnosed with Stage IIB Triple Negative Breast Cancer in January 2021, went into remission August 2021
Photographed here is Erin Perkins. Click here to read more about her story.
What type of bra would you recommend to breast cancer survivors or current fighters to ensure comfort, support, and overall well-being?
“When comfort is key, wireless bras feel best.”
– Devon Sanders 36, diagnosed with Stage 4 Breast Cancer in June 2021
Want to give comfort to someone in need? Check out some of our comfiest and most stylish bras that can provide support post-surgeries or during treatment journeys.
At Skarlett Blue, we aspire to empower you to feel confident, beautiful, and comfortable in your own skin by creating lingerie that effortlessly blends style, quality, fit and comfort. How does this align with your current journey or stage in life?
“Losing your breasts to cancer should not mean you have to hide behind plain bras and baggy clothing. Embracing your new curves and feeling confident in your new skin is everything!”
- Kristin Mageros 41, diagnosed with Stage 2 in April 2015, went into remission February 2016
To complete our campaign, this month, we are collaborating with Shopping Gives to contribute 10% of every purchase made on our website to The Breast Cancer Research Foundation. This nonprofit organization is dedicated to pursuing prevention and a cure for breast cancer. Their mission involves providing essential funding for global cancer research, driving progress in areas such as tumor biology, genetics, prevention, treatment, metastasis, and survivorship.
Statistics information sourced by: Breast Cancer Facts & Stats | Incidence, Age, Survival, & More (nationalbreastcancer.org)