With all the research on breast cancer, we know a tremendous amount about the disease. Researchers have identified what increases a woman’s risk of getting the disease and what has nothing to do with it. Doctors have an arsenal of therapies to treat it. And yet, we hold on to dangerous myths about it.
Some women hang onto these myths as a shield, but it doesn’t work, and they don’t find out the truth until after they have discovered that they have cancer. It’s important to identify and dispel these myths so that women can take effective steps to protect themselves.
Jean Campbell, a two-time breast cancer survivor and former director of the American Cancer Society’s New York City Patient Program who now blogs to support cancer patients, recently wrote about what she has heard from patients. It’s an urgent message for all women.
“The myths helped them feel safe in their denial. Breast cancer and its treatment, which often strikes at a woman’s self image, is too ugly for many women to think about, let alone learn about, unless and until they have to,” she wrote. “Unfortunately that level of denial may carry a heavy price tag.”
What patients have said:
- No one in my family ever had breast cancer. I don’t need to get mammograms. Yes, you do! Every woman is at risk for breast cancer as she ages. Most woman who get breast cancer have no known family members who had breast cancer
- Men don’t get breast cancer… although rare, men do get breast cancer
- Breast cancer is a punishment from God…breast cancer is a disease, not a punishment
- Touching myself to do a breast exam is wrong…no, it can save your life
- Breast cancer is a shame in my culture…there is nothing to be ashamed of, you did not give yourself breast cancer
- I got breast cancer because I am so stressed…stress doesn’t give you breast cancer
- Young women don’t get breast cancer…they do; not as frequently as older women, but they do
- Breast cancer jumps from one breast to the other…not true
- If I take radiation, I can’t be around anyone because I will be radioactive…not true
- I got breast cancer because I wore bras that had under wires…not true
- If I get chemo my hair will fall out and not grow back…your hair will grow back
Please make a commitment to help to dispel the myths about breast cancer. Breast cancer is an equal opportunity disease. It does not discriminate socially, racially, culturally, or economically. It isn’t just a disease of older women, it is also a disease that impacts the young, the healthy, the ones who eat right and exercise.
Women over 40 should have a mammogram annually, according to the American Cancer Society. You can request an appointment at ella health on line using our secure system.