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#BCAM, Assess Your Risk, Early Detection, Hey Sis

How Much Do You Know About Breast Density?

A major part of living your #breastlife is getting familiar with your girls, but how familiar are you?

Did you know that about 40% of women in the United States have dense breasts- with Black women having a higher rate? We have the lowdown on what exactly is breast density and how to find out if your girls are dense.

What does it mean if I have dense breasts?

Your breasts contain several types of tissue, from glandular lobes that create milk when you are pregnant, to lymph and blood vessels, to fatty tissue. Breast density is a way to measure how much of your breast is made up of fatty tissue. Dense breasts contain less fatty tissue. Since dense tissue and tumors both appear white on a mammogram, dense breast tissue can make it hard to find tumors or other changes in the breast on a mammogram.

How does breast density affect my breast cancer risk?

In addition to making cancer detection more difficult, breast density also increases your risk of breast cancer. Studies show that having dense breasts can double your risk of getting breast cancer. Ugh.

The first step to prevention and early detection is to know your risk. Take 5 minutes to assess your risk now.

Who is more likely to get dense breasts besides Black women?

  • Young women
  • Women who have a lower BMI
  • Premenopausal women
  • Postmenopausal women taking hormone therapy

But…the medical community is not entirely sure. Your breast density can change as you age, or as your bodyweight changes.

How do I find out if I have dense breasts?

The only way to truly know if you have dense breasts is through mammography. Some states have laws that say a radiologist/healthcare provider must inform you if you have dense breasts, and some states don’t.  Your best bet? Talk with your healthcare provider and ask them directly if you have dense breasts.

What happens next?

If a radiologist determines that you have dense breasts, talk to your healthcare provider about what screening options are available to you, taking into account other risk factors like family history of breast cancer, personal health history, and lifestyle. Currently, there are no guidelines or recommendations for increased or additional screening for women with dense breasts.

What types of screening are available and when are they used?

  • 2D Mammogram: This is the most common form of mammography. Your personal and family health history will determine when you start screening.
  • 3D Mammogram: This technology is becoming more widely available and proven to be more accurate than 2D mammography.
  • Breast MRI: This can be used in addition to mammography if your provider wants a more accurate reading. This can be utilized for women at elevated risk.
  • Breast Ultrasound: This can be used to look more closely at something suspicious. It can also be helpful in addition to mammography for women with dense or fibrocystic breasts.

Now that you know a little something about breast density, move beyond awareness to ACTION. Here’s how…

Sign Up for Bright Pink Breast Health Reminders

Our girls come in all different types of sizes, shapes, and varying densities. Text BRIGHT to 59227 and reply Y, or sign up here, for Bright Pink’s Breast Health Reminders™. We’ll send you regular reminders to check in with your breasts so that you can better define what’s normal for YOU. You are just one text message away from living your #breastlife.

#Assess Then Act

Remember, the first step to prevention and early detection is to know your risk. Take 5 minutes to assess your risk now, and start living your #breastlife.

Early Detection, Risk-Reduction Lifestyle

The Text that Saved my Life

This is Erin’s story. But, really, it could be anyone’s.

I remember signing up for Bright Pink’s Breast Health Reminders™ without giving it much thought. Let’s be honest, we all live on our phones so what’s one more text a month?

When that first message popped up, I spent a lot of time checking my body to make sure everything felt okay. It did. So I went on with my life. For the next few months, I would get my reminder from Bright Pink and spend some time feeling for anything abnormal. It became habit.

It would have been so easy for me to become complacent. I was 34 years old and, month after month, everything seemed fine. Until it wasn’t.

Then my August reminder came, and I found a lump.

Commence the mammograms, ultrasounds, surgery and eventual diagnosis. Luckily, we caught my breast cancer in its early stages and I was going to be okay.

My journey to okay started because of a text message. Had I not signed up for Breast Health Reminders, had I grown lazy and ignored them each month, my prognosis could have been much different.

That text truly saved my life.

 

Erin (left) with her sister and nieces.

This is my story but, really, it could be anyone’s story. The fact is, all women have at least a 1 in 8 chance of developing breast cancer in their lifetime and, for those with a family history of the disease, the risk is even higher. But, there’s good news. All young women have the power to be powerful advocates for their own health and being proactive is the first step.

We know the odds. We know how high the stakes are. And, this Breast Cancer Awareness Month, I’m here to remind you that we have the power to do something about it by signing up for Bright Pink’s Breast Health Reminders today.


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Community, Early Detection, Personal Stories

Shannon’s Story: Bright Pink and ZTA in action

This post was originally published in 2016. 

Shannon Lane knows that you don’t need to personally have breast cancer to be affected by it. That’s why, as President of Northwestern University’s Zeta Tau Alpha sorority, the journalism senior has been instrumental in spreading Bright Pink’s mission across campus.

“Our philanthropy is breast cancer education and awareness, and I am proud that it’s not just lip service,” she said. “Young women might not know enough about their risk for breast and ovarian cancer, so our work with Bright Pink is a very practical way for us to tap into the education aspect of what we do.”

Lane’s first encounter with Bright Pink was during an Educational Workshop held at her sorority chapter two years ago. Since then, she’s hosted a Brighten Up on campus open to all Greek life members, and her chapter held a school-wide presentation in 2016.

Despite her enthusiasm about the cause, it can be difficult to grab the attention of young women who have spent their lives thinking breast and ovarian health is a topic for those in their 50s.

Bright Pink’s teamwork with Zeta Tau Alpha helps us reach the next generation, which results in more proactive young women and more lives saved. Since 2015, Bright Pink has educated tens of thousands of Zeta Tau Alpha members annually.

After her first interaction with Bright Pink, Lane signed up for Bright Pink’s Breast Health Reminders™ — text message reminders to stay on top of her breast health. Before Bright Pink, she didn’t think Breast Self-Awareness applied to her age group.

“Bright Pink gives people the tools they need to take actual action,” she said. “They take a step beyond just awareness, and give young women practical knowledge that they can use in their everyday lives.”

Lane hopes that college students across the nation will see Zeta Tau Alpha as more than just a pink ribbon, and will begin to associate the sorority with action-oriented breast cancer awareness and education.

What’s the main thing Bright Pink has taught her?

“You can never start thinking about your long-term health early enough. There are always things you can do and steps you can take.”

Early Detection, Risk-Reduction Lifestyle

New Year, Brighter You! 8 Ways to Jump-start an Incredible 2018

 

Less fast food, more mindfulness, less clutter, more exercise…start the year on a bright note and give these healthy habits the consideration your body deserves.

Commit to Personalized Prevention: Prevention isn’t one-size-fits-all. Your health plan should be personalized to your unique self! Your personal and family health history, your genetic makeup, your lifestyle choices. So start by establishing your breast and ovarian health baseline at AssessYourRisk.org. Your results will give you personalized recommendations for healthy living and breast and ovarian cancer risk management. ALREADY DONE IT? DO IT AGAIN! Your risk should be re-evaluated annually. Things change, and when they do, your prevention plan should too!

Cut back on the cocktails: Research shows a 10% increase in breast cancer risk for every 10g of alcohol — that’s one standard drink — consumed on average each day. Try swapping that next vodka soda for a healthier alternative. Holidays are over people!

Visit your Doc, even when you feel healthy. A well-visit can do you good! Schedule your 2018 appointment(s) to discuss your AssessYourRisk results, keep up with routine screening, explore hereditary cancer genetic testing, and more.

Get moving: 30 minutes of exercise on most days may reduce breast cancer risk by as much as 10–20%. Not to mention it’s a great stress reliever. Make 2016 the year you go to that yoga class you’ve been avoiding.

Know your body, know your normal: You know your body better than anyone. Make 2018 the year you really focus on you. When you know your normal, you’ll be equipped to notice any concerning changes, should they arise. That matters.

Eat well, live well: Research shows a modest decrease in invasive breast cancer in women with a low-fat diet. Of course there will be splurge days (we’re only human!), but it’s all about moderation. Always keep fresh fruit on hand, that way you’re never too far from an easy, healthy snack.

un-BFF the burger: Research shows a 12% increase in breast cancer risk for every 50g of red meat consumed on average each day. Turkey burger, anyone?

Sign up for regular health reminders: When life gets busy, it’s far too easy to put your health on the back burner. That’s why we’re here to remind you when and how to give your health the attention it deserves. Sign up here and we’ll be in touch with ways you can take action to live a healthier, happier, longer life. Remember, no one has a greater responsibility to care for your health than you!

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