OK, first you must realize that I am a Stage IIIb Breast Cancer survivor. TWO YEARS! WOOOO HOOOO!!! During my excruciating journey through devastating chemotherapy, radiation therapy, several inpatient hospital stays, and vicious complications, I came out the other end pretty sound overall, and happy to be alive.
During that time I did a LOT of research on breast cancer. Everything statistical, of course, from race makeup (I am Native American and Caucasian), percentage of cases that metastasize, rates of remission, types of treatment, length of post treatment mortality, you name it. I asked it all, researched it all, and made sure that I understood why my body had turned against me and what I could do to help it repair itself. And yes, I read books. MANY books. Some good, some not so good. In some cases, the books were not so good in that they were written for a rather broader cancer base than mine – I really wasn’t interested in colon or testicular cancer, just breast cancer. For others, they weren’t really as technical as I would have wished (I have a medical background) but would be perfect for the less technically oriented.
And then we get to this little missive.
DON’T BUY IT
Especially if you have breast cancer, have a family member who has breast cancer, a friend, or even a dog who has breast cancer (yes, your dog can get it too if you don’t have her spayed. It is kinder all the way around not to force your pet to go through heats and breeding. There are enough unwanted animals in the word already. OK, off my soapbox.)
This so-called book is a collection of, well, you can’t really call it “knowledge.” It is more like a middle school kid sat down in detention with a stack of books in front of him (notice the “him”) and was told to write a 30 page essay on breast cancer before he can go out to play. Grab a sentence here, one there, smooch them all together, and BLAMO! Now you can go out to play with all the other boys! Sooooo…. useless. Totally. Completely. Useless. Looking at the publication list of the “author” (and believe me, I use that term loosely) he woke up one morning and decided that, since he had problems in his life, he was going to take advantage of that fact and write “books” (I use that term loosely also) to “help” (loosely, anyone?) others with problems. And that truly, Truly makes me want to scream and throw things!
Whew. OK. Calm down. Deep breath. Big yoga stretch. There, Isn’t that better? Now. Here is what you want to do. If you have breast cancer, or even SUSPECT you, or someone you know or love is at risk, DON’T PLAY AROUND. There are many, many resources out there from clear cut, intelligent, EDUCATED PROFESSIONALS (and free of charge, may I add) that are better, clearer, better written, and more helpful than what is found in these few pages. Some of the statistical information within the book is even highly questionable (where in the heck did the under-forty population go? Do they not get breast cancer? Uh, WRONG. One of my ‘cancer partners’ was in her early twenties, several only a bit older. Additionally, women under the age of 30 who get breast cancer have a very poor prognosis for survival past the five-year NCBD timeline, which this particular pamphlet doesn’t even mention.)
If you feel that you are at risk for breast cancer, don’t delay, and don’t let some cocky GP convince you that just because you are young, you can’t get breast cancer. Any time a medical professional blows you off, blow them off. There is someone better out there.
Do breast exams. Get checked out every year by a, and I can’t state this seriously enough, CARING physician. Once who listens, and is educated in the way a woman’s body really works. Yes, there are smart, educated male physicians out there, just like there are uncaring, uneducated women physicians. Medicine is just like any other profession – it is run by humans, and humans are in no way, shape or form infallible. Go with what feels right for you, not for what other people say should feel right for you. It’s your body. Listen to it. If you want real, useful information, there are many sites on-line. There are also local groups, agencies, and facilities who are more than happy to answer your questions and ease you into the process of understanding what is going on with your body.
Just don’t forget – there is help, excellent help, for breast cancer related issues. Whether you are a friend, family member, or fear that you are at risk, reach out for help. This isn’t your grandmother’s medical system any longer. You can find help. You don’t have to rely on this type of, dare I say, predatory marketing. Instead, check out the free professional information below. And, if you want to chat? Are afraid or uncertain? Look for local breast cancer support groups. And if all else fails? I am always here. Drop me a line. You are not alone!!!
National Library of Medicine – You want simple? This even has photos and diagrams of EXACTLY what is happening, and will happen, to your body.
The National Cancer Institute – Everything from genetics to approved clinical trials for new and coming medications and treatments
Male Breast Cancer Information – Yes, men get breast cancer too
National Cancer Institute – Afraid you have, or do have, another form of cancer? Go here first.
For information on Breast Cancer Support Groups in your areas, here are great places to start:
- the National Cancer Institute’s Cancer Information Service, 1-800-4-CANCER (1-800-422-6237)
- your local chapters of the American Cancer Society
- Susan G. Komen for the Cure
- Your local hospitals and breast cancer clinics
You’ll also find an active on-line support community at the Breastcancer.org Discussion Boards.