Breast Cancer Awareness and Survival

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By Alan L. Hammond
 
The most frightening parts of life are those that are beyond control. Otherwise, happy and healthy lives can be suddenly and harshly interrupted by an unexpected expense, the loss of a job, a friend or family member. One of the most devastating occurrences is receiving a diagnosis of breast cancer, for both the patient and loved ones.
 
Not long ago, the golf world was rudely introduced to breast cancer when Amy Mickelson, wife of the world's No. 2 player, Phil Mickelson, received the diagnosis that she had breast cancer. Upon learning of his wifes newly diagnosed condition, Amys husband suddenly and understandably suspended his PGA Tour schedule in favor of spending time with his wife, three young children and their extended family. As Amys treatment plan has reportedly come into focus, her husband has planned a brief return to the Tour, for the St. Jude Classic and the U.S. Open. His future plans and Amys condition remain uncertain.
 
What is certain is the outpouring of support the Mickelsons have received from golfers, fans and the golf world in general. While spending time at their home last weekend watching the Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial, Amy Mickelson said via her husbands Web site, 'Every time we see a player, caddy, announcer, or fan wearing pink we are overwhelmed by the love and support we feel. The eleven days since we received the diagnosis have been very difficult, but this incredible gesture helps us feel so much stronger. We are determined to overcome this.'
 
Displays of support from family, friends, and complete strangers has become the norm for breast cancer sufferers, whos numbers grow at the rate of over 178,000 each year. Although men can develop breast cancer, it is overwhelmingly a disease that effects women. According to Susan G. Komen for the Cure, a foundation established to educate and assist patients and the public about breast cancer, the chance of a woman developing invasive breast cancer at some time during her life is approximately one in eight. With the odds of developing breast cancer so high, it is imperative for women to take the steps necessary for early detection of the disease, since there is a survival rate of nearly 95 percent when the cancer is detected in its earliest stages.
 
The Komen foundation recommends that women have annual mammograms, which are essentially breast X-rays that can detect lumps before they can be felt, beginning at age 40. The foundation also recommends that clinical breast exams be conducted every three years beginning at age 20, and yearly beginning at age 40. Women with a family history of breast cancer should inform their physician and develop an individual prevention plan.
 
It is important not to panic when a breast lump is found. Statistics have proven that eight out of 10 breast lumps are not cancerous. It is, however, important to call or visit a physician when a lump is detected.
 
There only known risk factors for breast cancer are being a woman and aging, which means that the disease is not predictable. Though who it strikes cant be determined, with regular and thorough self-exams and clinical examination, the disease can be beaten and a long, happy and healthy life can be expected.
 
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