2016: The Year of Support
January 1, 2016
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Breast Cancer – Fight it! Beat it!

The Women are Worthy show covered the story of Megan Musca, who discovered she had breast cancer when she went for regular routine checkup. We discussed the hurdles thrown in her path and how Megan fought through all those barriers. Her story can help us all Fight Cancer and Beat Cancer!

Megan Musca, age 31, a mother of two young children, including a seven month old son, was at her midwife for a regular routine checkup. Upon examination, the midwife found a lump in her right breast. Megan panicked but the midwife asked her to stay calm and not to worry as it is probably something related to her monthly cycle. Despite the assurances by her midwife, Megan scheduled an appointment with a breast oncologist a week later. The ultrasound and manual exam revealed a mass of 1.4 cm which was not taken seriously by the doctors and they referred to it as “benign”. They asked her not to go for a biopsy and just to come back in three months. However, Megan insisted on a biopsy in order to confirm that it was just “benign” and not cancer. Luckily, that biopsy revealed that she had a triple negative breast cancer (a breast cancer sub-type associated with high mortality and inadequate therapeutic options) and is very difficult to treat if not diagnosed in its early stages. It is also more likely to spread and recur. Megan is now a breast cancer survivor, but her survival would not have been possible if she had not insisted on the biopsy despite of the reassurances from her midwife and oncologist.

Worldwide, breast cancer accounts for 25% of all cases of cancer in women, . In 2012 it resulted in 1.68 million cases and 522,000 deaths. Breast cancer is more common in developed countries and is 100 times more common in women than in men. In 2015 it is estimated that among U.S. Women, there will be 231,840 new cases of invasive breast cancer and 40,290 deaths due to breast cancer.

As they say, a pound of prevention is better than an ounce of cure. Therefore, it is really important for women to get their mammograms scheduled on regular intervals. Mammograms don’t prevent breast cancer, but they can save lives by finding breast cancer as early as possible. For example, mammograms have been shown to lower the risk of mortality from breast cancer by 35% in women over the age of 50.

Megan’s experience also tells us how important it is to believe in one’s own intuition. We are the guardians of our own health and no one knows us better than we know ourselves. Regardless of how others perceive us, we should always trust our internal instincts because not trusting those instincts will ultimately lead to suffering. Had Megan ignored her internal urge to get the appointment with an oncologist or not insisted on a biopsy, she probably would not be here to tell us her story.

Cancer patients also strive for support that gives them hope and strength to fight this disease. Support from the family, community, and society is as important for the cancer patients as the treatment itself. Most people with cancer do not want to face the experience alone and will need support from their family and friends. “I’m here for you” may be the best thing you can say to show your support. But, keep in mind that not everyone with cancer wants to talk about their feelings. They may have other ways to express their emotions, and some people just prefer to keep their feelings private. Also, be prepared for changes in your loved one’s behavior and mood. Medications, discomfort, and stress can cause someone with cancer to become depressed or angry. Encourage your loved one to be active and independent, as much as possible, to help them regain a sense of self-reliance and confidence.

Cancer has the greatest effect on marriages and other long-term partnerships. After a diagnosis of cancer, both individuals may experience sadness, anxiety, anger, or even hopelessness. For some couples, facing the challenges of cancer together strengthens their relationship and commitment. For others, especially those who struggled in their relationship before the diagnosis, the stress of cancer may create new problems and worsen existing problems.

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