We all know cancer is brutal. There’s not a family in America untouched by this disease — and while I count myself extremely lucky to be healthy (despite one experience with a mammogram that left me a little haunted), I have friends and family who have gone through treatments, and not all have survived.
Most of you know that one of my closest friends, colleagues and role models is a breast cancer survivor who is now fighting a recurrent form of thymic carcinoma. I am the Executive Producer on an EMMY-nominated film featuring her story, as well as the incredible efforts of three other cancer survivors. It’s called Conquering Kilimanjaro and I hope you all take a moment to watch and share our trailer.
Now that I’m a mom, with one little girl and one who will be joining us any day, the fears I have for their health and wellness are heightened, as well as for myself. I want — no, I am desperate — to be here for their high school graduations, their weddings, the births of their children and the graduations of those kids.
The advancements in clinical trials, treatments and recovery are incredible. My grandmother died of breast cancer years ago, and even since then, there have been significant steps forward in research and our understanding of what breast cancer is.
But we can do more.
October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, the annual campaign to increase awareness of the disease, offer information and support to those affected by breast cancer and raise funds for research into its cause, prevention, diagnosis, treatment and cure.
Did you know?
- Breast cancer is the second most common kind of cancer in women (skin cancer is the first)
- About 1 in 8 women born today in the U.S. — as in, MY KIDS — will get breast cancer at some point in her life
- Even with employer-sponsored health insurance, patients who are fighting breast cancer spend about $6,553 out of pocket
Just this week, the American Cancer Society released new guidelines for screening for breast cancer. The goal is, of course, to find cancer before it grows enough to cause symptoms and spread to other parts of the body. And of course, self-exams are free and easy — I try to check myself in the shower at least once a month (can’t hurt, right?).
It’s a partnership with the American Association for Cancer Research Foundation. You can buy all kinds of cool merchandise like hats, pins and of course, the famous plush duck, and all of the net proceeds go to the AACR just toward funding research that hopefully can find a cure.
(AACR is the first and largest cancer research organization in the world with a membership of more than 35,000 professionals residing in 101 countries working on the front lines of the effort to eradicate cancer.)
Aflac is also, impressively, working to help families who are dealing with a new cancer diagnosis and trying to navigate their health and financial options. Aflac’s cash benefits can help policyholders pay the out-of-pocket costs associated with costly cancer treatments.
And a cancer insurance policy can be used not only for treatment expenses not covered by major medical insurance, but also for extra child care that may be needed, transportation to and from the doctor or treatments, and even everyday living expenses, such as mortgage payments or groceries.
My little girls will know the word cancer — they will see it touch a loved one, a friend, a classmate or a colleague. I can’t stop them from that pain. But as early as I can, I’ll be talking with them about taking care of their bodies, and doing everything they can to monitor their own health and wellness, particularly when it comes to women’s cancers like breast.
I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.