Confession time: I’ll be a little relieved when this month is over. Being diagnosed in October (Breast Cancer Awareness Month) is an odd thing. Everywhere I look, there’s pink. NFL players wearing pink wrist bands! Pink merchandise splashed in retail stores and online from pink Marimecko aprons to pink tubes of luxurious La Mer hand cream!
Note: replace Jan Brady’s infamous lament: “Marsha, Marsha, Marsha!” with “Pink! Pink! Pink!”
Don’t get me wrong – Pink October creates awareness and raises money for breast cancer research – both of which are good things. Truly. And I’m not making a wild accusation that these businesses – Estee Lauder, Asics, and Edible Arrangements among them – are disingenuous with their marketing tactics. The bone I have to pick is with some of the messaging surrounding BCAM. Much of it is upsetting. And much of it is just plain wrong.
In my effort to uncover the “why’s” and “how come’s” of my breast cancer diagnosis, I find myself doing a lot of reading. What hormonal and reproductive factors may have contributed? What role did environmental factors play? What about lifestyle factors? I’ve been trying to separate fact from fiction.
Here’s what I know:
Myth: Mammograms prevent breast cancer.
Truth: Mammograms can detect early breast cancer, but cannot prevent it. The blurred lines here come from the notion that mammograms save lives. This is true.
Myth: Miscarriage, Abortion + Fertility Treatments increase likelihood of developing breast cancer later.
Truth: Researchers have found no consistent links in their studies between breast cancer and miscarriage, abortion or fertility treatments. The confusion stems from the notion that hormonal and reproductive factors are known to influence breast cancer risk related to estrogen production.
Myth: A positive attitude can beat cancer.
Truth: A positive attitude can improve quality of life (staying active, maintaining a healthy lifestyle, and continuing social activities) during treatment and after treatment but there is no scientific proof that a positive attitude gives you an advantage or improves your chances of being cured.
So there you have it. Happy Early November!