Category Archives: mission

Mission Monday: Mammograms- Before, During and After Screening

The biggest key to fighting breast cancer is early diagnosis. Along with your monthly self-exam, most women should schedule an annual mammogram.

Breast cancers found during screening exams are more likely to be smaller and still confined to the breast. The size of a breast cancer and how far it has spread are some of the most important factors in predicting the prognosis of a woman with this disease.

For women with an average risk of breast cancer the American Cancer Society recommends this screening schedule:

Women between 40 and 44 have the option to start screening with a mammogram every year.

Women 45 to 54 should get mammograms every year.

Women 55 and older can switch to a mammogram every other year, or they can choose to continue yearly mammograms. Screening should continue as long as a woman is in good health and is expected to live 10 more years or longer.

All women should understand what to expect when getting a mammogram for breast cancer screening – what the test can and cannot do.

Women who are at high risk for breast cancer based on certain factors should get an MRI and a mammogram every year, typically starting at age 30. This includes women who:

  • Have a lifetime risk of breast cancer of about 20% to 25% or greater, according to risk assessment tools that are based mainly on family history (see below)
  • Have a known BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene mutation (based on having had genetic testing)
  • Have a first-degree relative (parent, brother, sister, or child) with a BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene mutation, and have not had genetic testing themselves
  • Had radiation therapy to the chest when they were between the ages of 10 and 30 years
  • Have Li-Fraumeni syndrome, Cowden syndrome, or Bannayan-Riley-Ruvalcaba syndrome, or have first-degree relatives with one of these syndromes

Once you have had your mammogram, what happens next?

Usually following a mammogram you will get a letter with your results within 30 days that everything was normal.

But if doctors find something suspicious, they’ll call you back – usually within just 5 days – to take new pictures or get other tests.

Getting that call can be scary, but a suspicious finding does not mean you have cancer.

A suspicious finding may be just dense breast tissue, a cyst, or even a tumor that isn’t cancer. Other times, the image just isn’t clear and needs to be retaken. Or, if this is your first mammogram, your doctor may want to look at an area more closely simply because there is no previous mammogram to compare it with.

You will likely have another follow-up mammogram, a diagnostic mammogram. You may also have an ultrasound of your breast or possibly an MRI.

Following one of these tests you are likely to be told 1 of the following:

* The suspicious area turned out to be nothing to worry about and you can return to your regular mammogram schedule.

* The area is probably nothing to worry about, but you should have your next mammogram sooner than normal – usually in 4 to 6 months – to make sure it doesn’t change over time.

* Cancer was not ruled out and a biopsy is needed to tell for sure.
– Even if you need a breast biopsy, it still doesn’t mean you have cancer. Most biopsy results are not cancer, but a biopsy is the only way to find out. During the procedure, a small amount of tissue is removed and looked at under a microscope.

If you do have cancer and you are referred to a breast specialist, use these tips to make your appointment as useful as possible:

* Make a list of questions to ask at the appointment. Download a list from the American Cancer Society or call us at 1-800-227-2345.

* Bring a family member or friend with you. They can serve as an extra pair of ears, help you remember things later, and give you support.

* Ask if you can record important conversations.

* Take notes. If someone uses a word you don’t know, ask them to spell it and explain it.

* Ask the doctors or nurses to explain anything you don’t understand.

How can I stay calm while waiting?

Waiting for appointments and the results of tests can be frightening. Many women experience strong emotions including disbelief, anxiety, fear, anger, and sadness during this time. Some things to remember:

* It’s normal to have these feelings.

* Most breast changes are not cancer and are not life-threatening.

* Talking with a loved one or a counselor about your feelings may help.

* Talking with other women who have been through a breast biopsy may help.

* The American Cancer Society is available at 1-800-227-2345 around the clock to answer your questions and provide support.

For more on mammograms and the importance of early detection, visit Cancer.org here.

Learn more about non-cancerous breast conditions here.

Guidelines for what to do if you are called back after a mammogram, visit here.

Fact Friday: FDA Approves Verzenio (Abemaciclib) for Certain Advanced Breast Cancers

As we near the end of this year’s MSABC campaign, We are pleased to inform you that another step has been made toward our end goal!

On September 17, 2017 it was released that the FDA had approved Verzenio (Abemaciclib) for the treatment of certain advanced breast cancers.

To learn more about Verzenio (Abemaciclib) and what types of advanced cancers it can be used for, please see the official release here.

This is why we continue to Make Strides with your support!

Ways to Help Wednesday: Reach To Recovery

For more than 45 years, the American Cancer Society Reach To Recovery program has been helping people cope with their breast cancer experience – as early as the first possibility of a diagnosis and continuing for as long as breast cancer remains a personal concern to them.

The Reach To Recovery volunteers are specially trained to help people through their experience by offering a measure of comfort and an opportunity for emotional grounding and informed decision making. As breast cancer survivors, our volunteers give patients and family members an opportunity to express feelings, talk about fears and concerns, and ask questions of someone who has been there. Most importantly, Reach To Recovery volunteers offer understanding, support, and hope because they themselves have survived breast cancer and gone on to live productive lives. Program volunteers do not provide medical advice.

To learn more about the how the program works, please visit the Reach To Recovery page here from Cancer.org

If you are a breast cancer survivor and are interested in becoming a Reach To Recovery volunteer, please visit this page.

Mission Monday: Look Good Feel Better

Look Good Feel Better is a non-medical, brand-neutral public service program that teaches beauty techniques to people with cancer to help them manage the appearance-related side effects of cancer treatment. The program includes lessons on the skin and nail care, cosmetics, wigs and turbans, accessories and styling, helping people with cancer to find some normalcy in life that is by no means normal.

Thousands of volunteer beauty professionals support Look Good Feel Better. All are trained and certified by the Look Good Feel Better Foundation, the American Cancer Society, and the Professional Beauty Association at local, statewide, and national workshops. Other volunteer health care professionals and individuals also give their time to the program.

The program is open to all women with cancer who are undergoing chemotherapy, radiation, or other forms of treatment.

There is also Look Good Feel Better for Men is a practical guide for helping men with some of the side effects of cancer treatment, including skin changes, hair loss, and more. As well as the Look Good Feel Better for Teens program which is a hospital-based public service program created by the Look Good Feel Better Foundation, the American Cancer Society, and the Professional Beauty Association to help girls and guys between the ages of 13 and 17 deal with the appearance, health, and social side effects of cancer treatment.

In addition to the U.S. program, the Look Good Feel Better Foundation oversees a global network of 25 licensed affiliates that deliver Look Good Feel Better support programs in countries across the globe.  Collectively, the 26-country network has served more than 1.8 million people living with cancer on six continents since the program began in 1989.

There are so many ways to volunteer with Look Good Feel Better and make an impact. More than ever, your dedicated support helps give hope to those most affected by cancer.

  • Experienced beauty professionals such as hairstylists, estheticians, makeup artists, and nail technicians are always needed to help conduct group programs and/or one-on-one salon consultations.
  • Volunteer coordinators are also needed to help schedule, plan and promote the workshops. This role is great for anyone who likes planning, organizing, and working with other volunteers.

For more information on the Look Good Feel Better program, please visit the official website here.

For information on becoming a Look Good Feel Better volunteer, please visit the Volunteer page here.

Fact Friday: Breast Cancer Rates Decline, But Still 2nd Leading Cause of Death

Breast cancer is the most common cancer for women affecting 1 in every 8 women. Breast cancer deaths for women are only second to lung cancer, with 1 in 37 deaths attributed to breast cancer.

The good news is that breast cancer death rates have declined between 1989 and 2015 by approximately 36%. The peak rate came in 1989. Most of this is attributed to earlier detection and raised awareness, along with better treatments.

Cancer remains the second leading cause of death in the United States. However, in 21 states it is the number one cause of death. Breast cancer is the leading cause of cancer death in women aged 20 to 59 years.

For more information about how common breast cancer, get the facts here from Cancer.org.

To learn more about the declining rates of cancer, please visit this page.

Ways to Help Wednesday: Urgent Need For Road To Recovery® Drivers

Every day thousands of cancer patients need a ride to treatment, but some may not have a way to get there. The American Cancer Society Road To Recovery® program provides transportation to and from treatment for people with cancer who do not have a ride or are unable to drive themselves.

For those who cannot drive themselves or have no other means of getting to their treatment, our Road To Recovery® volunteers donate their spare time and their personal vehicles to give cancer patients a much-needed lift.

Even the best treatment can’t work if a patient can’t get there. That’s why a successful transportation assistance program can be a tremendous, potentially life-saving asset to your community.

How do you know if you are eligible for the Road To Recovery® program?
Patients must be traveling to an appointment for:

  • Cancer treatment
  • Follow-up at any time after treatment

Other eligibility requirements may apply.

To learn more about the Road To Recovery® program, please visit the official page here.

To learn more about being a volunteer driver for Road To Recovery®, please visit the volunteer
page here.

Mission Monday: American Cancer Society’s Circle Of Life

The American Cancer Society’s Circle Of Life (COL) was originally developed in 1991 growing out of a collaboration of the Society with American Indian women in Oklahoma. The original program focused on increasing breast health awareness, and included a train the trainer model that was shared across the nation. Since then, the Circle Of Life has undergone two revisions, one in 2001 and another in 2008-2009. Currently, the COL addresses cancer information needs of American Indian communities across the cancer continuum by providing resources and training.

The Circle Of Life provides cancer education and resources to help community health representatives and health educators work within American Indian and Alaska Native communities. These resources provide ways for communities, families and individuals to stay well, get well, find cancer cures, and continue on their journey.

To learn more about the American Cancer Society’s Circle Of Life program, please visit the official site here.