5 ways to make breast cancer awareness month more meaningful

PharmAdv_BreastCancer2Learn the signs – and share them
Get to know your breasts. Learn how they feel and the shape of the nipples so you will notice if something changes.

Warning signs include lumps or hard knots, swelling or redness, a change in breast size or shape, puckered skin, unusual warmth, a scaly sore on the nipple, unusual tenderness of the nipple, and clear or bloody nipple discharge that comes on suddenly. Symptoms don’t necessarily mean you have cancer, but they definitely mean you should get checked.

Also, share your knowledge. Make a list and print it — maybe on bright pink card stock — to share with friends and family members.

Teach your teen
Teenagers often are uncomfortable asking questions about normal changes in their bodies, and they can feel even more awkward asking about illness.

Although less than 7 percent of breast cancer cases occur in women under 40 years of age, it’s never too early to instill good practices in checking breasts and knowing about signs and symptoms. This is especially true in families with a history of cancer.

Help your teen learn the facts about breast cancer and self-care through your family physician or reputable organizations such as the American Cancer Society or the National Breast Cancer Foundation. Clear time to sit and talk with your teen, make an appointment with your doctor for a chat, or form a group with other parents or a school counselor to talk about the realities, fears and good practices.

Healthy romance
If you are in a relationship, teach your partner how to check your breasts for lumps and other changes. That may sound unromantic, but the time spent getting to know your body can be a pleasure. The support, trust and knowledge will deepen and strengthen your bond.

Few men consider breast cancer a personal risk, but in the United States about one in 1,000 men will develop invasive breast cancer, compared to one in eight women. In 2013, 2,240 men were diagnosed with it.

A man whose female relatives had breast cancer is more likely to get it as well.

Check out the fact sheets on male breast cancer on the Susan G. Komen Foundation website.

Get ready for next year
PharmAdv_BreastCancer1Start talking now with friends, family members or social groups about fun ways to raise money and awareness for Breast Cancer Awareness Month 2015.

The possibilities are endless:

London’s Walk the Walk has had hordes of women and men taking to the streets in bras. Female-run Bullfrog & Baum, a New York City PR agency, started Project Pink Tank to encourage restaurants to sell pink cocktails and give a portion of their receipts to breast cancer research. You could host storytelling circles, where people would share their cancer experiences.

You might be surprised and empowered by learning what you can do to help fight breast cancer, and to spread awareness past October and across the year.