October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month
At Soothe, we’re on a mission to bring wellness to the world. Because October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, we wanted to hit pause on our usual content and provide some useful resources, facts, and inspiration for anyone looking to get involved.
By the numbers
- According to the National Breast Cancer Foundation, 1 in 8 women in the US will develop breast cancer in her lifetime.
- The survival rate for breast cancer is 99% when diagnosed in the localized state (approximately 64% of cases). This means the cancer has not yet spread outside the breast.
- There are more than 3.5 million breast cancer survivors in the US
- According to the World Health Organization, breast cancer is one of the most common cancers in women worldwide.
- Both women and men can develop breast cancer.
While there is no way to prevent breast cancer, living a healthy lifestyle keeps your immune system in fighting condition. Maintaining a healthy weight through diet and regular exercise, and limiting alcohol consumption will promote overall wellness and help keep diseases like cancer at bay. You also shouldn’t smoke or use tobacco products. The World Health Organization says that tobacco use is “the single greatest avoidable risk factor for cancer mortality and kills more than 8 million people each year, from cancer and other diseases.” Stress can weaken your immune system. Therefore, mental health is equally important in maintaining a healthy, balanced lifestyle.
Early detection is crucial
Medical experts agree that early detection is essential to treating cancers of any type, but especially breast cancer. When diagnosed before it spreads to other parts of the body, the survival rate is 99%. The risk of developing breast cancer increases as you age. So most doctors recommend yearly mammogram screenings after age 40. If you have a family history of the disease, discuss your options with your doctor, as you may want to take additional precautions or schedule more frequent screenings.
Self screenings and symptoms to look for
In addition to mammograms, doctors recommend regularly checking yourself for signs of breast cancer. Women should perform breast self-exams monthly, starting as early as their teens. While mammograms can detect cancer before you are able to feel a lump, self-checks are vital to checking between your screenings. Regular self-exams also help you notice changes to your breasts. Here are some potential breast cancer symptoms to look for while performing your self-exam:
- A hard lump anywhere in the breast, including near the armpit or around the nipple
- Any changes to skin texture around the breast, including dimpling or enlarged pores
- Unexplained changes in size or shape, especially in only one breast
- Tenderness or skin thickening, especially around the nipple
- Discharge if you are not breastfeeding
If you notice any of these signs and symptoms during a breast self-exam, you should contact your doctor. Remember, finding these symptoms does not automatically mean you have breast cancer. But you should always get checked by a professional if you notice anything abnormal.
Taking care of yourself if you’re diagnosed
A breast cancer diagnosis is scary, stressful, and can take a serious toll on your well-being. But in order to ensure your treatment is as effective as possible, you’ll want to take extra care of yourself. In addition to the treatment plan established by your medical team, you can manage your overall wellness with some simple lifestyle adjustments.
- If you don’t already eat a diet high in nutritious fruits and vegetables, now is a good time to start. Eating well can help give your immune system a leg up, plus it’s fun to cook with new ingredients! Try adding some of these powerhouse immune-boosting foods to your meals.
- Stay as active as you can. Cancer treatments, not to mention the disease itself, can sap you of your energy and make it hard to stay fit. But physical fitness is so important to overall health! The key to staying active is finding an exercise routine that works for you at your current ability level. Try lower-impact exercises like walking, yoga, or swimming.
- A breast cancer diagnosis is not just a physical battle, but a mental one as well. Your mental health can have a huge impact on your treatment. So take time to understand and respect your thoughts, emotions, and reactions as you go through this process. Prioritize your mental well-being by letting go of the things in your life that aren’t serving you—heavy feelings, negative thoughts, maybe even negative people.
- Explore meditation and mindfulness. In addition to exercise, meditation can have powerful, positive benefits on both your mental and physical wellbeing. Meditation can help with stress management, and can also give you tools for processing difficult emotions and situations as they arise.
- Take time to celebrate yourself. You’re an amazing, strong, and incredible person, and you deserve to treat yourself! A celebration of self looks different for everyone, so choose something that’s meaningful and feels right for you.
Are massages safe for breast cancer patients?
Massage therapy is a powerful tool in promoting relaxation and sleep, reducing anxiety, and relieving tension from sore muscles. Cancer patients often suffer from many of these symptoms during treatment. Massage has shown to offer physical and emotional benefits for patients, including women with breast cancer. There is no evidence that massage can cause existing cancer to spread.
Scientific studies have evaluated how effective massage is for patients undergoing treatment. One study found that healing touch, like light massage and reiki energy healing, lowered patient anxiety, and reduced the need for pain medicine. A University of Miami study reported an increase in immune-boosting white blood cell count in women diagnosed with breast cancer after receiving massage therapy. This research helps support that massage is safe for cancer patients. It also can improve the quality of life for those undergoing cancer treatments.
As with any medical condition, it’s best to ask your doctor before receiving massage therapy. If your doctor clears you for massage therapy, Soothe is a great option! Because Soothe brings a certified, licensed massage therapist to your home, you don’t need to worry about the added stress of traveling to a spa or medical facility to receive your treatment. Deep massage modalities are not recommended for cancer patients, so choose a lighter technique, such as Swedish massage, when booking. Once your appointment is confirmed, we recommend communicating with your massage therapist prior to beginning your appointment so they can provide the best care and experience for you.