Breast Cancer Awareness Month
If you've been seeing more pink ribbons lately, it's because October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, an event that began in 1985.
You've probably seen people wearing little pink ribbons from time-to-time and know that they symbolize the fight against breast cancer.
One of the most prominent people involved with that first event was former First Lady Betty Ford, wife of President Gerald R. Ford. Mrs. Ford was a survivor of breast cancer and was diagnosed while her husband was still in office. (The Fords enjoyed a very happy retirement in Rancho Mirage after leaving the White House and, in 1982, Mrs. Ford established the city's Betty Ford Center, which specializes in treatment programs for addiction to alcohol and other drugs.)
Today, the ongoing goal of Breast Cancer Awareness Month is to not only educate women about symptoms, but also to learn about early detection tests that allow you to take charge of your breast health. Aside from self examination—feeling the breasts for lumps—a routine screening mammogram is a quick and simple process, and you'll often receive results the same day, or within 24 hours.
If you're wondering about other possible symptoms of breast cancer, the World Health Organization lists some things to look out for: Alteration in the size, shape, or appearance of a breast; dimpling, redness, pitting, or other alteration in the skin; a change in nipple appearance, or alteration in the skin surrounding the nipple; and abnormal nipple discharge.
While many people put off preventive care visits to their doctors during the pandemic, now is not the time to skip an annual mammogram. "The past year has posed a challenge to just about everything and breast cancer prevention is no exception," says Dr. Shubha Kerkar, DAP Health's Director of Infectious Diseases.
"For the past 30 years, the National Breast Cancer Foundation (NBCF) has supported women by helping them get access to the education, screening, and support they need," she adds. And echoing the motto of the NBCF, Dr. Kerkar says, "This is our moment to rise up and do even more. October is the month of raising awareness."
Dr. Kerkar also notes that there are charitable organizations that can help women who are unable to afford mammography services. A couple of local resources you can contact are: Borrego Health, 855-436-1234; and the Department of Health Care Services' Every Woman Counts, 800-511-2300.
If you're a cancer survivor, like Dr. Kerkar who survived breast cancer in 2015, she highly recommends a support group called Shay's Warriors: Life After Cancer that was initially founded to help women who had gone through breast or other reproductive cancers. "It is now helping women and men to have a healthy, inspiring, and safe space for survivors to thrive," says Dr. Kerkar. Their website, www.shayswarriors.org/community, also lists many local resources.
In addition, you can visit the DAP Health website, daphealth.org, to learn about the many client wellness services we offer, such as behavioral health, yoga and meditation, nutritional counseling, group therapy, and more.