Breast Cancer Awareness and How to be Proactive about Breast Health

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post written in collaboration with Touchstone Crystal by Swarovski but all opinions about breast cancer and breast health are my own.

Breast Cancer awareness is a big deal to me. It’s not about pink anything or freeing tatas or any of that. It’s about women’s health and helping those who are diagnosed survive. Cancer’s a bitch. Awareness is about a cure. It’s about keeping the women we love alive by teaching women to perform self-breast exams, to know the signs and symptoms of breast cancer and encouraging women to get their annual mammograms.

We women need to become more proactive about our breast health. We spend our lives putting other’s needs ahead of our own but they need us. We know that and if that’s the case, isn’t it our responsibility to take care of ourselves so that we can be around for them?

I get it, the thought of a mammogram is a bit daunting, especially your first one. I’ve had 2 and I was definitely a little nervous before the first one but it’s nothing. You get to wear a nifty half top, you go into a room and (if you’re lucky) a really nice nurse will explain it all to you and then she’ll situate your breast when she places it in the machine. It is a little snug. I am rather well-endowed and I have dense breast tissue and we have to make sure everything is in the scan. Honestly, the most uncomfortable thing about the whole thing is if your nurse has cold hands. Luckily, mine was courteous and warmed hers up first. It only takes a few minutes and it can save your life so get over yourself and do it.

There are a lot of great resources for women readily available to us these days like the National Breast Cancer Awareness organization.  Right now, you can sign up for a free e-book, The Breast Health Guide What every woman needs to know. It includes tips on how to be breast health aware and includes questions to ask your doctor.

I have friends who have survived breast cancer and I thank God for that. Luckily, as more is learned about breast cancer we can be more proactive in catching it before it infiltrates the rest of our body. Breast cancer is the most common cancer diagnosed in women in the United States, other than skin cancer and is the second leading cause of death in women. The scariest statistic? The chance of a woman developing breast cancer sometime in her/my/your lifetime is about 1 in 8.

We’ve made great strides in research and currently, we even have genetic screenings in place to look for the  BRCA1 and BRCA2 markers in women who might be predisposed to getting breast cancer but there is more to be done. We can’t stop until we eradicate this disease.

BRCA1 and BRCA2 are human genes that produce tumor suppressor proteins. These proteins help repair damaged DNA and, therefore, play a role in ensuring the stability of the cell’s genetic material. When either of these genes is mutated, or altered, such that its protein product either is not made or does not function correctly, DNA damage may not be repaired properly. As a result, cells are more likely to develop additional genetic alterations that can lead to cancer.

Specific inherited mutations in BRCA1 and BRCA2 increase the risk of female breast and ovarian cancers, and they have been associated with increased risks of several additional types of cancer. Together, BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutations account for about 20 to 25 percent of hereditary breast cancers and about 5 to 10 percent of all breast cancers. In addition, mutations in BRCA1 and BRCA2 account for around 15 percent of ovarian cancers overall. Breast and ovarian cancers associated with BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutations tend to develop at younger ages than their nonhereditary counterparts.

A harmful BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutation can be inherited from a person’s mother or father. Each child of a parent who carries a mutation in one of these genes has a 50 percent chance (or 1 chance in 2) of inheriting the mutation. The effects of mutations in BRCA1 andBRCA2 are seen even when a person’s second copy of the gene is normal.

A woman’s lifetime risk of developing breast and/or ovarian cancer is greatly increased if she inherits a harmful mutation in BRCA1 or BRCA2.

Breast cancer: About 12 percent of women in the general population will develop breast cancer sometime during their lives. By contrast, according to the most recent estimates, 55 to 65 percent of women who inherit a harmful BRCA1 mutation and around 45 percent of women who inherit a harmful BRCA2 mutation will develop breast cancer by age 70 years.

 Ovarian cancer: About 1.3 percent of women in the general population will develop ovarian cancer sometime during their lives. By contrast, according to the most recent estimates, 39 percent of women who inherit a harmful BRCA1 mutation and 11 to 17 percent of women who inherit a harmful BRCA2 mutation will develop ovarian cancer by age 70 years.

We’ve all seen the Pink Ribbon, the universal symbol for breast health. But it’s much more than that. It’s an international symbol for hope for a cure and, to me, survival; either survival of one badass woman who beat breast cancer or a family member who survived losing someone to breast cancer. Either way, that little pink ribbon signifies female strength at the highest level.

Touchstone Crystal created some pieces in honor of the American Cancer Society Making Strides Against Breast Cancer initiative, which supports women in the fight against breast cancer. A portion of the proceeds from the sale of these products will be donated to the American Cancer Society.

To find out more, click here.

mammogram, breast cancer, breast cancer awareness, touchstone crystal

Touchstone provided me with a beautiful dainty Pink Ribbon for Breast Cancer Awareness necklace. It’s absolutely gorgeous and so delicate and feminine. I love it but I’m sending mine on to a friend who just celebrated her 10th breast cancer-free anniversary. She found out she had breast cancer when her daughter was just a newborn. She is one of the kindest and sweetest women that I’ve ever known and the world would be a far less interesting place without her in it. She also happens to be a total badass cancer survivor.

Touchstone Crystal is also providing me a necklace to give to one lucky reader. For the chance to win one for yourself or to give to someone in your life who is struggling with or has survived cancer enter below.

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