I am a husband who, 13 years ago, helped his wife battle and survive breast cancer. And I am also a father whose daughter has been bravely fighting breast cancer since 2011 despite some extremely serious setbacks. During breast cancer awareness month, I consider it my duty to join the chorus of voices reminding women why it is important to get annual mammograms. However, in my daughter’s case – as well as 40 percent of women between the ages of forty and fifty – a mammogram is simply not enough. This is because they have dense breasts and a mammogram may not reveal the tumors that would enable these women to get diagnosed and treated while the cancer is in its early stages. The fact is women with dense breasts are four to five times more likely to get breast cancer.
We are fortunate to live in a state that recognizes that women, like my daughter, who have dense breasts, require additional testing and this past year, passed a law requiring healthcare providers to notify women if they have dense breast tissue. However, it is not enough to simply know this information, women and their physicians must also act!
If my daughter had known, she and our family could have been spared a lot of anguish and pain. While I can’t unring the bell of what happened to her, I can sound the alarm for other women to get their mammograms and if they have dense breasts, be sure they aggressively seek additional tests by actively speaking with their doctor about options such as ultrasound and or MRI.
To all husbands and fathers, encourage the special women in your life to be proactive in regard to breast health and get tested. Breast cancer awareness is not just for October – it is a12-month, 24-7 job and it all begins by being informed.