October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. “Who needs to be reminded of breast cancer?” a friend recently remarked.  “I’m aware all right! I’m scared to death of it and I’m tired of hearing about it!”

Look again.  This is NOT Breast Cancer Fear Month or Terror Month.  A month to make us aware of breast cancer is a time for learning, for getting the facts straight and knowing our options.  It’s also a time to demand legislation that promotes and supports research, and to help raise the funds needed so that research continues and advances.

Women who are aware don’t believe a diagnosis of breast cancer is a death sentence.  I am a 21-year breast cancer survivor, and I never thought about giving up and dying!  In fact, I got a second and then a third opinion to be clear on what type and what stage of cancer I had.  That’s another form of awareness.

It wasn’t easy to take in all the information about surgery and treatment options (I should have engaged a Healthcare Advocate!).  In the past, mastectomies were thought to be the best option for everyone, and there were few choices of chemicals to use for chemotherapy.  Now, there are many choices, so it’s important to have a medical team who will work with you to help you make your own educated choices.  I opted to have a lumpectomy instead of a mastectomy and followed that surgery with a round of chemotherapy and radiation.  I declined further treatment that I felt wasn’t necessary (FYI: that decision was supported by my oncologist).  Sure all of it was difficult, but was it worth it? Oh yes!

Breast cancer—be aware. Pay attention.

In closing, I want to give a special shout out to all the MEN and PARTNERS who stand by their ladies and fight the fight with them.  I really love you all!!!