October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Although cancer is a topic that we usually don’t like to talk about, most of us know at least one person that has had some form of it. Keep reading to learn the signs and symptoms of breast cancer and how to support those that are either going through treatment or are currently in recovery.
Signs and Symptoms
A monthly breast self-exam is an important part of your healthcare routine. However, sometimes breast cancer doesn’t have any noticeable symptoms. If you’re over 40, get a mammogram annually to catch lumps or abnormalities that aren’t obvious. According to the American Cancer Society, any of the following changes in your breasts could be a symptom of breast cancer: swelling, skin irritation, dimpling, inverted nipples, pain, redness, scaliness, discharge, thickening, and lumps. These symptoms don’t necessarily mean cancer, but if you notice any changes in your breasts be sure to make an appointment with your doctor for an evaluation as soon as possible.
Be Present but Non-Intrusive
Breast cancer is the second most common cancer diagnosed in women in the United States. With an increase in breast cancer awareness and funding for research, survival rates are steadily increasing. Still, receiving a diagnosis can be devastating. Besides considering the survival rate, women (and men) have to think about how their bodies will change and how it will affect their daily activities and personal and professional relationships -- among countless other things. As family members, friends, and coworkers of those affected by breast cancer, we should do our best to learn how to be understanding through this difficult time. We’ve compiled some pointers on how to be supportive below, but realize that there’s no one-size-fits-all answer.
- Be available to listen without feeling the need to give advice. Talking about emotions can be hard, so try to be comforting. Sometimes just having a conversation can help them sort through their thoughts and make decisions. It might also help to be light-hearted to help them keep their spirits up and feeling normal. Like the saying goes, laughter is the best medicine.
- Offer to help with specific tasks like washing the dishes, going grocery shopping, or walking the dog. If you accompany them at their next doctor appointment, take notes and remind them of any questions they may have had. This process can be overwhelming, so the little things go a long way.
- Be present but non-intrusive. Everyday is different when going through treatment, so extend an open-ended invitation. They may not feel like eating or seeing anyone some days, so bringing over food or showing up unexpectedly can add unnecessary stress. Call and leave a voicemail or send a text message to let them know that you’re available whenever they are feeling up to it.
Support the NBCF
Maglite is a proud partner of the National Breast Cancer Foundation (NBCF). The NBCF’s mission is to save lives by increasing awareness of breast cancer through education and by providing mammograms for those in need. Maglite donates partial proceeds from the sales of five limited edition flashlights to the NBCF. Get one for yourself or as a gift!