By: Alona Metz, Founder
Today is October 1, the first day of Breast Cancer Awareness Month. This month we will also celebrate Thrivacious’s first birthday. I can’t believe it’s been a whole year!
In order to commemorate this milestone, and to honor Breast Cancer Awareness Month, we will be posting something from one of our community members related to breast cancer every day throughout the month of October on our Facebook page. By giving our community members a platform for expression this month, we hope to educate, promote awareness, share personal stories and support each other.
Please note: While during this month we will be focusing on breast cancer, which is still the most common cancer among women and a leading cause of death worldwide, Thrivacious is a community that includes women touched by all types of cancer.
A special thank you to Naomi Rytz Haik, a breast cancer thriver and Thrivacious Advisory Board member for having this incredible idea and spearheading this initiative.
As the Founder of Thrivacious, and a breast cancer thriver myself, I’d like to share a part of my story and make a request of everyone who is reading this post today. On September 3, 2012 I was lounging on my couch after coming back from a Labor Day weekend trip with a good friend in Ojai, California. I had been exercising a lot recently and felt a pain in the area of my left-armpit which I attributed to doing too many pushups. I was trying to massage out the kink when suddenly I felt something. It was so small that I couldn’t really be sure. I kept going back and forth – was it a lump? Should I go see a doctor? Am I imagining things?
I can’t explain why, but there was something inside of me that told me I needed to see a doctor right away. And despite the reassurances of every single person in my life (including the doctor) that this was just a benign cyst, 4 days later I got a phone call telling me that I needed to come in right away because I had breast cancer.
I cannot tell you how lucky I am. I didn’t know a damn thing about breast cancer, the BRCA gene (which I ended up testing positive for), or self-exams. But here I am, 6 years later, because of an intuition that I could have easily chosen to ignore.
More and more women, many of them in their 20’s and 30’s, are being diagnosed with breast cancer these days. And sadly, there is NO CURE for metastatic breast cancer (cancer which has spread beyond the breast area), and too many of us are still dying.
Mammograms are only given to women over the age of 40, and in some places, over the age of 50. The only way younger women can protect themselves is by proactively doing a self exam or being checked by a doctor (in the US this is done by a gynecologist, in Israel, it must be done through a breast surgeon). Women over the age of 30 should be getting checked once a year! And if you have a family history of cancer, potentially even earlier than that.
So today, the first day of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, I am asking you to make a pledge to honor the brave women of Thrivacious who have been through this terrible journey, who are still going through it, and who have lost loved ones because of it. Please take 5 minutes to check yourself or to make that appointment.
Here is a LINK to breastcancer.org’s recommendations and instructions for self exams.
Stay tuned for more information about early detection and prevention, information about the BRCA gene, inspiring stories of thrivers, and insight into the realities of breast cancer.