With deployments, PCSing, constant employment searches, financial instability, your kids’ homework and all of the chaos that comes with military life, it’s easy for you– the military spouse– to forget about your health.
October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and while we are bombarded with pink items available for purchase at our favorite stores, this month is the perfect reminder that women need to take time for our health needs. We must do our monthly breast self-exams. It’s non-negotiable. It’s a necessity for our health and wellness.
Early detection is the key to conquering breast cancer.
Early detection is a combination of 2 regular screenings. First, women are advised to do monthly breast self-exams. Every. Single. Month. Not once in a while. Not when they think about. Not the day before a doctor’s appointment. Every month. Secondly, women are advised to have a clinical exam every 3 years during their 20s and 30s. Starting in your 40s, women are recommend to have an annual mammogram. For women who have a 15 percent higher risk, Tricare covers mammograms beginning at age 30. These basic screenings– clinical exams and mammograms– are covered by Tricare.
Breast cancer research conducted at Johns Hopkins Medical center states that “40 percent of diagnosed breast cancers are detected by women who feel a lump, so establishing a regular breast self-exam is very important.” With early detection the survival rate for breast cancer is 98 percent. That statistic alone should make breast self-exams a priority in your life.
When was the last time you did your self-exam? More than 31 days ago?
Here are 4 ways to remind yourself to do a monthly breast self-exam:
- Create an account with Early Detection Plan. It takes 5 minutes to set up reminders for monthly breast self-exams and routine clinical check-ups. Besides the website, smartphone users can download the Early Detection Plan app for either iPhone or Android.
- Pick 1 day each month that’s your self-exam day. Make this date easy to remember. Many women choose either the first day or last day of the month. Or you can choose the same date as your birthday. For example if your birthday is July 23, you simply make it a routine to do your self-exams in the shower on the 23rd of every month.
- Schedule a reminder. Do your breast self-exam today and then schedule a reminder on your electronic calendar. It will send you a text message alert every month. Have the reminder say that “40 percent of diagnosed breast cancers are detected by women who feel a lump.”
- Choose an BSE accountability buddy. Ask a sister, aunt, mother or close friend to be your breast self-exam (BSE) accountability buddy. We have friends who kindly remind us to exercise or eat healthy. Breast self-exams are necessary for healthy lives for women.
Want more information about breast self-exams?
Visit Susan G. Komen’s website, American Cancer Society’s website or National Breast Cancer organization’s website. These websites, along with many others, explain in detail how to conduct monthly breast self-exams.