October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, so be aware

Breast Cancer Awareness Month has officially arrived and as we celebrate, being vigilant about caring for the “girls” has never been more important. Usually there’s pink everywhere to gently remind us that if we’re focused, committed, and unrelenting, we may get the opportunity to eradicate this scourge in our lifetime. This year we include men since every year at least 2,500 men versus 276,480 women are diagnosed with breast cancer.

Here are five important things we need to know about breast cancer: (1) breast self-exams work. No, self-exams aren’t fun, but they are necessary, and they provide critical information early. You know your body better than anyone else, so do them the same time each month. (2) Listening to and trusting your body is a win-win situation. Something that’s there this month but wasn’t there last month means pay attention. Even when you think the spot or lump may be nothing, trust your body to send a silent alarm if something’s a little off.

(3) Pain is information. If you’re not sure about what you’re hearing, get a second opinion. Your insurance may fight paying for it but get a second set of eyes on the itchy spot, strange lump, or unusual change in your breast tissue. Don’t worry about hurting your doctor’s feelings—this is your life that you’re fighting for. If your doctor brushes you off or doesn’t talk to you directly, ask for one who will. (4) You have a right to the answers you need about what is going on with your body. Do the research and discernment—all treatments are not the same. (5) Finally, know the lingo. Get as much information as possible—know what stages mean and make notes so you won’t forget your questions.

Breast cancer has wreaked havoc long enough in the lives of our families and I believe it’s time for us to put it to rest. Most cancer survivors agree that attitude is one of the most important weapons we have in the fight against this horrible disease. An adage that I love poignantly puts cancer in its place, “We may have cancer, but cancer doesn’t have us. We’re survivors!” In many families where breast cancer seems to be a generational curse, mothers, grandmothers,  sisters, cousins, and aunts gather for the day and make it an annual outing to have lunch, get mammograms, Pap Smears, and other annual screenings, believing there’s strength in numbers.

We must band together and support research, celebrate at survivor events, talk about, and hold each other accountable for taking care of each other. We are indeed our sisters’ and brothers’ keepers—let’s keep one another lifted in prayer and love as we move triumphantly forward and cancer free.

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, and it has become an urgent topic this year because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Domestic violence victims are too often trapped at home with their abusers and layoffs and downsizings have caused many households to be financially strapped or configured differently because many companies have allowed workers to stay home and work. The dynamics that prompt or exacerbate violence, financial stress, anxiety, uncertainty, loss of self-esteem, mental health conditions—the list goes on– make hazardous conditions for women and their children.

Many abusers use children as leverage in domestic situations and alcohol-induced threats quickly escalate to points of no return. Domestic violence situations are dangerous for everyone involved–the abused, police officers, children, relatives who try to intervene—so proceed with caution to avoid making dangerous situations worse. Consult www.dvawareness.org for more information.

Do you believe that our choices and actions have the power to protect the most vulnerable among us? Kindly share your insights with me at #drbondhopson on Twitter and Facebook!

Looking for inspiration, empowerment, uplift, straight talk, an encouraging word to brighten your day? You’ve arrived! Meet Dr. Cynthia Ann Bond Hopson, best-selling author, educator, inspirational speaker, sistergirl–she’s all that and more. Now listen to her new podcast, “Three Stores, Two Cotton Gins, One Remarkable Life: The Journey from There To Here,” and meet her favorite family and friends as they share laughter and heartwarming life lessons. Look for it on this page or wherever you get your favorite podcasts.

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