Story last updated at 10/14/2009 - 1:36 pm
My breasts. I know we are a family publication and writing a column about my breasts is not what you were expecting. Regarding my breasts, I have a confession. I turn 40 this year. No, it's not the length of time since my birth that I am embarrassed about. The embarrassment is that even though I am an educated, intelligent and informed woman, I have yet to make an appointment for my first mammogram.
The National Cancer Institute estimates that 192,370 U.S. women will be diagnosed with breast cancer during 2009, and 40,170 women will die of the disease this year. See http://seer.cancer.gov/index.html.
There is some good news. According to the American Cancer Society, the death rate in the U.S. continues to drop by more than 2 percent each year. This can in part be attributed to increased awareness.
The National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, held in October, celebrates its 25th anniversary this year. It began as a way to promote awareness of breast cancer issues and to bring this discussion to a national stage. Today, across the nation, individuals, businesses, health care professionals, and the media speak with one voice to promote education and early detention though breast exams.
Now back to my breasts and my 40th birthday. A woman's risk of being diagnosed with breast cancer increases with age. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1.44 percent of women now in their 40s will get breast cancer sometime in the next 10 years. That is one or two women out of 100. It is clear that we should all be addressing this issue by our 40th birthdays.
Looking at the next 30 years, the risk for a woman in her 40s risk is estimated to increase to 6.83 percent. Early detention is the key, but we continue not to be tested. I haven't. But I intend to set an example and make that appointment. Will you join me?I would love to hear from others. Let's make a pact that by the end of the month, anyone turning or already in her 40s who hasn't yet had a mammogram will call and make an appointment.
When you see me, go ahead and ask, "Have you made that appointment yet?" If you have a friend, mother, sister, or loved one who needs a mammogram, please remind her it's time.
In the coming two weeks, thanks to our advertisers and sponsors, you'll see stories and information regarding breast cancer. We are all going pink at the CCW. We are trying to do our part to raise awareness and continue the discussion.
You'll learn about resources available here in Southeast Alaska and hear from cancer survivors across the Panhandle. If you want to share your story of survival, please e-mail Katie Spielberger at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I'm embracing turning 40. I hear it's the new 30... except when it comes to getting that breast exam. So do it for your family and do it for yourself.
Laura L. Newsom is the general manager of the Capital City Weekly. She may be reached at email@example.com.