Female news anchors wore pink dresses and male news anchors wore pink ties on October 1, marking the beginning of breast cancer awareness month. The color pink is everywhere; even in the professional ranks of football players, sporting pink shoes, pink gloves, pink sleeves on pro football uniforms, even pink ribbons on footballs, maybe even pink underwear... you get the idea. Pink ribbons appear on sides of buildings, and billboards while pink cupcakes are the featured bakery items. And, campaigns for breast cancer walks begin, even though most of them don't take place until the following summer. Within the past year Angelina Jolie's decision to undergo a bilateral mastectomy made national news. The awareness and importance of breast cancer detection and treatment has grown by leaps and bounds. WebMD reports that "For menopausal women, the awareness of breast cancer risks are of even greater importance." They go on to state, "The rates of many cancers, including breast cancer, do increase with age." However, published early online October 4, 2013 in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers and Prevention, it was noted that researchers from the American Cancer Society have found that walking at least seven hours per week is associated with a 14 percent lower risk of developing breast cancer after menopause.
Although football and breast cancer make strange bedfellows, some of the principles of football apply to us as menopausal and postmenopausal women. We need to know our game plan, just as pro players do. For us it includes:
• Having regular mammograms and doing monthly self-breast checks
• Including at least five servings of fruits and veggies daily
• Limiting alcoholic beverages to one per day
• Keeping our weight within "normal" limits
• Exercising regularly
Just as important as the ideas listed above is remembering the camaraderie and support that we have to share with each other. In hearing a dear friend who experienced a bilateral mastectomy in 1991 relay her experience "back in the day," I realized that things were much different then. Support groups were nonexistent for her. Hotlines to call for information, options and reassurance were nowhere to be found. She was one of the fortunate ones who had friends that rallied around her with visits and emotional support. And, she had the good fortune to be someone who not only survived, but thrived. When I asked her what she thought made the difference for her, she replied, "my positive attitude."
Yes, attitudes can and frequently do make the difference. As women with "can do" attitudes, we've changed so many things in the field of women's health. And, although this may sound like yawning material, that we've all heard before... we all need to take notice and responsibility for our health as we have in the past and will continue to forever.
Founder of Full Circle Women's Health in Colorado, Stephanie Bender has significantly contributed to a much larger understanding of women's health through her books, lectures and television appearances. Her most recent book is, "End Your Menopause Misery, " which she co-authored with Treacy Colbert. You can post a comment or read more about Stephanie on her website, by clicking here. You can also follow her on Facebook by clicking here.