I Can’t Have Cancer Because…
One of the primary reasons we ask women to get their annual screening mammograms and clinical breast exams is because breast cancer can be sneaky. It shows up on screening when it doesn’t in daily life.
Women who face a new diagnosis of breast cancer have a roller coaster response of emotions – the first of which is often:
“I can’t have breast cancer!”
Why the denial?
Here are some common reasons women are certain they can’t have breast cancer:
“But I feel fine” is a common response we get from women and one of the hardest to respond to. With screening we can find cancers when they are small – so small you need magnification to see them. This is why your self-exam and even your clinical breast exam may be perfectly normal. You may and probably will feel perfectly fine – even though there is a cancerous growth in your breast. That’s why screening every year, feeling healthy or no, is crucial.
“No one in my family has breast cancer!” A second common response. But remember, only 10-15% of breast cancers have a genetic or familial component. Put that another way, 85-90% of the women who are newly diagnosed with breast cancer will be the first in their family to have breast cancer.
“I take care of myself and live healthy.” This one is another source of frustration. Breast cancer hits women of all shapes and sizes, of all body types and of all walks of life. It is entirely possible to live a healthy lifestyle and still be diagnosed with breast cancer. Healthy eating, exercise, maintaining your weight – all great and all reduce risk, but none are able to prevent breast cancers.
Breast cancer is indiscriminate. It cares not that you are planning a big trip, your retirement or even your first child. One of the many frustrating things (and there are SO many) about the disease.
The truth is: Cancer doesn’t care but we do. It can strike but we can strike back! And the sooner found, the sooner you can be on the road to your best possible health.
Originally published 2/27/14 on mammographykc.com.