We’ve all heard of the dreaded breast lump. An unknown or mysterious lump that appears on or around a woman’s breast is the most famous sign of a potential breast cancer diagnosis and should be reported to a healthcare specialist at once. However, there are several other early indicators of potential breast cancer.

Knowing the Common Signs of Breast CancerThere are a number of changes that affect the way a woman’s breast looks and feels that can serve as warning signs of breast cancer. The more aware of these warning signs women are, the more likely they are to notice something irregular during a self-examination or bring them up during a breast cancer screening appointment. This is obviously very important, since the earlier breast cancer is noticed and reported, the greater the chances of treating it before it can grow or spread.

We highly recommend speaking to your healthcare provider at once if you begin to experience any of the following breast cancer symptoms:

  • Tenderness, sensitivity or thickening on or near the breast, breast or underarm
  • Skin texture of the breast becoming red, itchy, scaly or tougher (similar to an orange peel)
  • Any unexplained changes in the size or shape of one or both breasts
  • Any new, unexplained dimpling of the breast
  • Any random swelling of the breast, especially if it only occurs on one side only
  • Previously unseen asymmetry of the breasts
  • A slightly inward-turned or inverted nipple
  • A nipple discharge that occurs when a woman is not breastfeeding

For most women, experiencing any of these symptoms will not mean a positive breast cancer diagnosis. However, when dealing with the possible threat of breast cancer, it is always better to be safe than sorry. The sooner you visit your healthcare provider, the sooner you can stop worrying about what a potential change to your breast might mean. And in the case that it does indicate breast cancer, it is certainly best to recognize this as soon as possible. For more information about breast cancer, please contact Pink Ribbon Story Foundation today. You can also follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Google+ for more news and updates.

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Receiving a positive breast cancer diagnosis can be immensely challenging. From weighing options like chemotherapy treatments or trying to decide if breast reconstruction surgery is right for you, these decisions can be overwhelming. This is as true for the loved ones of a diagnosed patient as it is for the patient herself. A mother is often the center of her family’s universe, so such a drastic, life-altering change can send shockwaves through an entire family. As a mother, it’s only natural to want to ease your children’s fears and anxieties in regards to your condition.

How to Cope with Breast Cancer as a MotherAfter your diagnosis, you may feel that your relationship with your kids has changed. Kids can respond to this kind of news in a variety of ways depending on their age and personality. This could mean young children become clingy or teenagers becoming more distant, or vice versa. There is also the added fear for a daughter’s risk of developing breast cancer, if there was not a previous family history of breast cancer. All of this makes it especially important to keep your kids in the loop in regards to your breast cancer and treatment. Communication can go a long way towards alleviating your kid’s concerns and making them feel helpful and involved.

To help you better understand how to better cope with breast cancer as a mother, we have invited some of our Pink Ribbon Story Foundation breast cancer ambassadors to share their first-hand experience of how their personal breast cancer battle affected their family life:

“I hope that this has been a beneficial experience for my daughter.  I can remind her to make sure you go for your check-up.”

PRSF Breast Cancer Ambassador Deannie E.

“There are good things about having cancer. That’s odd to say, but developing that deeper empathy. I think, I hope, this has been a beneficial experience for my daughter. Because like most young people she thinks she’s immortal and I can remind her to please make sure you go for your check-up.”

“Get information because children will have a lot of questions and they want answers and they want to know that they can get the honest answers from you.”

PRSF Breast Cancer Ambassador Randi S.

“I got some very good advice from a friend of mine who is a pediatrician before I spoke to my children, which I was glad I did. And she said, get information because children, particularly older children, will have a lot of questions and they want answers. And they want to know that they can get the honest answers from you.”

Try to stay positive during your treatment. Keep in mind that there will be a time when you are able to become more involved in normal day-to-day stuff again. Make a point to regularly talk with your kids about your breast cancer experience, even after your treatment has concluded. Kids are often more comfortable when they know what’s going on and what to expect. For more information on how to cope with your breast cancer diagnosis, please contact the Pink Ribbon Story Foundation today. You can also follow us on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube for more breast cancer videos, news and updates.

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Each year in the US, over 11,000 women under age 40 are diagnosed with breast cancer. For women in this age group, it’s important to realize that there can be a connection between breast cancer and fertility. A positive breast cancer diagnosis can be overwhelming enough without having to wonder how your condition can potentially prevent you from becoming pregnant.

How and if a specific patient’s ability to become pregnant may be affected by breast cancer depends on a number of factors. These include the patient’s age, what breast cancer treatments the patient plans to undergo and the stage of the cancer when it was diagnosed. That’s why it is so important to speak with your doctor about fertility and having children when discussing your breast cancer treatment options.

To help put this in perspective, we invited several of our Pink Ribbon Story Foundation breast cancer ambassadors to share their own personal experiences with how breast cancer affected their fertility.

It’s important to remember that having breast cancer doesn’t necessarily mean that you cannot become pregnant in the future. There is a chance your fertility ultimately won’t be affected, but it’s better to do the research and be prepared should you have to make these kinds of choices during your treatment. The more informed you are now, the less overwhelming this can all be when it’s time to make a decision. For information on breast cancer and breast cancer awareness, please contact Pink Ribbon Story Foundation today. You can allow follow us on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube for more breast cancer tips, news and updates. If you are interested in sharing you or your loved ones breast cancer experience with the world, inquire about becoming a Pink Ribbon Story Foundation breast cancer ambassador.

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study-shows-breast-cancer-mortality-rates-declining-worldwideRecent years have shown us a decrease in the breast cancer mortality rate around the world. This seems to be the result of advancements in breast cancer treatments, medicine and surgical techniques, combined with heightened breast cancer awareness. Below we detail some recent statistics to help fully express this recent development.

A recent study presented at the 2016 San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium illustrated that the mortality rates associated with breast cancer had indeed decreased significantly between 1987 and 2013 (the length of the study). Of the 47 countries surveyed around the globe, 39 of them saw a decline in the rate of deaths caused by breast cancer, most notably the US and most of Europe. Mortality rates dropped for women in all age groups in the US, including a massive 50% decrease for women under age 50.

While it may be challenging to pinpoint one specific cause of this positive trend, there are a number of factors to consider. As we mentioned above, significant medical and research advancements have certainly been made over the course of the study. Additionally, the importance of regular breast cancer screenings and self-examinations has been more heavily emphasized, especially here in the States.

Breast cancer awareness is far more prevalent now and continues to grow around the globe as more breast cancer patients and survivors, like our Pink Ribbon Story Foundation ambassadors and their families, courageously share their stories and personal breast cancer experiences.

While this is certainly a very positive development, the fight against breast cancer is far from over. It’s important to use this good news as encouragement for those currently battling breast cancer and as a testament to the power of breast cancer awareness in order to keep this awareness going strong. For more information on breast cancer and how you can help, please contact Pink Ribbon Story Foundation today. You can also follow us on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube for more news and updates.

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We can’t reiterate this enough but early detection is a huge step in the right direction when it comes to treating breast cancer. The earlier doctors recognize a patient’s tumor the less chance there is that it has had time to spread throughout the body. Though a noticeable lump on the breast is one of the most commonly-detected symptom of breast cancer, it is far from the only warning sign.

Lesser Known Breast Cancer SymptomsWomen with the lesser known breast cancer symptoms are far less likely to be aware of their condition and see a doctor, making early detection less likely. The issue is many of these symptoms can seem like ordinary aches and pains, while others may not even have any effect on the breast itself. Regardless, it’s important to be aware of the various warning signs of breast cancer, even the ones that may not show up on breast cancer screenings or mammograms.

Some of these lesser known breast cancer symptoms include:

  • Pain in the breast
  • A New lump in the underarm (armpit)
  • Changes in the size or shape of the breast
  • Itchy, red or irritated skin on the breast
  • Pain in the upper back, shoulder and neck
  • Swelling of parts of the breast
  • Dimpling of the breast skin
  • Abnormal nipple discharge (including blood)
  • A change in sensitivity or appearance of the nipple

Knowledge is power in the fight against breast cancer. This is true for patients and for those researching and developing breast cancer treatments alike. In spring 2012, researchers announced the invention of a new computer software tool that would allow doctors to analyze mammograms for “architectural distortion”. Meaning, doctors would be able to see previously undetectable patterns in breast tissue that appear more than a year before the development of a lump.

While this is certainly encouraging for the future in the fight against breast cancer, this technology is still several years away from being widely available. In the meantime, regular breast cancer screenings mixed with diligent self-examinations are your best defense for finding breast cancer early and being able to seek the best treatment possible. For more information on breast cancer, contact the Pink Ribbon Story Foundation today. You can also follow us on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube for more news and updates.

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Knowledge is power when it comes to successfully treating and beating breast cancer. It is important to research and gather plentiful information about breast cancer, regardless which phase of the process you are in, so that you are better equipped with the knowledge of what you could potentially experience (keep in mind not all breast cancer cases and experiences are the same). That’s why the Pink Ribbon Story Foundation (PRSF) team wanted to provide answers to some of the more frequently asked questions about breast cancer that we commonly hear.

Answering Commonly Asked Breast Cancer QuestionsQuestion 1: Does a cyst emerging on the breast always lead to breast cancer?

No. In fact, cysts are common and rarely turn out to be cancerous. Still, it’s important to seek medical advice to confirm that what you have is just a cyst and not something more serious. Some women may experience cyclical lumps, which are generally nonthreatening cysts that appear before the start of the menstrual cycle, but shrink or disappear soon after. We still recommend getting these cysts checked out by a doctor with breast expertise, especially if the lump lingers or begins to grow larger.

Question 2: What factors determine the stage of my breast cancer?

Much like other forms of cancer, doctors use a rating system to grade the stages of breast cancer, depending on how advanced or serious the patient’s condition is. There are five stages of breast cancer with stage 0 being the least serious and stage IV being the most serious. The lower the stage, the better chances the patient has for successful treatment and long-term survival. The factors that determine which stage a particular patient’s breast cancer is in include the size of the tumor, how the cancer affects the lymph nodes and whether or not the cancer has spread throughout the body.

Question 3: How long after successful breast cancer treatment before I’m considered cancer-free?

That’s a tricky question. According to the National Cancer Institute, the 5-year survival rate is 80% for patients with non-metastatic breast cancer. Though some people may think that this means that surviving for 5 years means a patient is cancer-free, this is not technically correct. While it is true that the risk of recurrence is highest during the first 5 years, breast cancer can recur after that point, it’s just less likely.

Raising awareness and enhancing public knowledge are essential tools in the fight against breast cancer. But with that said, the most effective means of preventing breast cancer is getting screened consistently and regular self-exams. We hope these answers were helpful and if you have questions of your own in regards to breast cancer, please don’t hesitate to contact Pink Ribbon Story Foundation. You can also follow us on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube for more information.

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The Link Between Breast Density and Breast CancerThere are several well-known genetic factors that can help predict a woman’s risk of developing breast cancer. These range from age and certain inherited genes to a family history of breast cancer and lifestyle habits. Breast density is seldom thought of among these more common risk factors, but research conducted by the University of Virginia Cancer Center suggests breast density is an increasingly important predictor of a woman’s chances of developing breast cancer.

Breast density is a measure of how the breasts look when observed on a mammogram. It measures the area of breast and connective tissue visible on a mammogram relative to the area of fat. Since breast and connective tissue have higher density than fat, the difference is made visible by distinguishable color variations that can be seen on mammogram results. For breasts to be classified as high density, they must have a greater amount of breast and connective tissue than fat. Conversely, low breast density is when there is a greater amount of fat compared to breast and connective tissue.

Research has shown that breasts with a higher density can be far more likely to develop breast cancer and can also make it harder for a mammogram to detect indications of breast cancer since breast cancers are easier to observe when surrounded by fatty tissue. If you’re concerned about the density of your breasts, it is best to be proactive and ask questions during your next routine mammogram or breast screening. A good place to start may include asking your doctor the following questions:

  • If dense breasts run in my family, will this affect me?
  • Do I have high breast density? If so, is this a reason for concern?
  • What tests or screenings can measure the density of my breasts and how often should I undergo them?

For those that are classified as having high breast density, there are certain precautions that can be taken to help reduce the risk of developing breast cancer. Some of the recommended actions include:

  • Maintaining a stable, healthy bodyweight
  • Getting regular, daily exercise
  • Limiting alcohol consumption
  • Eating healthy
  • Avoid smoking cigarettes

Understanding breast density and its potential impact is just one step in the long journey to understanding and actively helping to reduce the chances of developing breast cancer. As always, early detection and being actively involved in your own personal breast health is vital. For more information on breast cancer and what you can do to lower your own risks, we hope you’ll continue to follow our blog for topics we think you’ll find helpful throughout your personal journey. If there is a topic you would like us to discuss or if you would like to share your own experiences, we encourage you to contact Pink Ribbon Story Foundation and also follow us on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube to keep the conversation going.

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The fear, anxiety and uncertainty of living with, and battling, breast cancer can take an immense toll on a woman’s life. There is an indescribable sense of relief that can come with hearing that you have successfully completed breast cancer treatment and are now cancer free. Receiving that positive news can create a sense of overwhelming joy, but for some, it can also create a different kind of uncertainty – especially when relating to recurrence. For many, moving on and transitioning to life after breast cancer can be a whole new challenge unto itself.

After going through an emotionally and physically taxing breast cancer journey, adjusting back to a “normal” life can be challenging for some. Survivorship, much like breast cancer itself, is a complex and personal experience that affects every person differently. Often breast cancer survivors earn a new perspective on life and strive to appreciate each and every day more than they did before their diagnosis. Others, after being introduced to how fragile life can be, may experience anxiety about their health moving forward.

To help put this in perspective, we invited several of our Pink Ribbon Story Foundation breast cancer ambassadors to share how they found their new normal after experiencing breast cancer.

It changes the terrain of who you are.

PRSF Ambassador Louise G.

“I think it leaves you with holes and ruts in your life that don’t get closed up. That they’re there and it becomes part of the terrain of who you are and they’re there to stay. And the hope is over time maybe they’ll get smoothed out. But it just changes the terrain of who you are.”

That’s a chapter of my life and I’m ready to move on to another chapter now.

PRSF Ambassador Jeanna B.

“I’m on the other side of it now. There is an end. I think about it… I think about it every day. I don’t talk about it every day, but something related to this experience, something tied to it always crosses my mind. And I don’t know if that will ever go away. I don’t wanna dwell on it either. That’s a chapter of my life and I’m ready to move on to another chapter now.”

It’s important to remember that adjusting to a post-breast cancer life may not happen overnight. Healing simply takes time. Try to keep realistic expectations and don’t be afraid to reach out for support whenever you feel like you need it. For information on life after breast cancer or breast cancer support, contact Pink Ribbon Story Foundation today. You can allow follow us on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube for more news and updates.

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It’s fairly common for a breast cancer diagnosis to make someone feel completely alone. After all, it’s your body, your life and your long journey ahead. At Pink Ribbon Story Foundation, we encourage breast cancer patients to put themselves out there and share their story with the world. While it may seem intimidating or awkward at first, there is immense value in accepting support during breast cancer and embracing the breast cancer community.

Don’t be too afraid or proud to ask for support from the people who are closest to you. Talking about your feelings, even if they are negative is highly recommended and can give the people in your life a window into what you’re going through. Though it can be challenging, don’t be afraid to tell your friends or family about your breast cancer; odds are, they would love to help you any way they can. Additionally, there is a whole community of fellow breast cancer patients and survivors with their own unique stories and experiences to share. Speaking with other people who are in a similar situation can help breast cancer patients reduce feelings of anxiety or isolation and realize that they are not in this alone.

To help express the power of accepting support during your breast cancer battle, we’ve enlisted the help of our Pink Ribbon Story Foundation breast cancer ambassadors. Click on the video below to hear PRSF ambassador Lane P. discuss the value of embracing the community:

What makes the breast cancer community so special is the ability to provide support in ways that people not affected personally by breast cancer simply cannot. Fully embracing the community means accepting support from your fellow patients and survivors as well as providing support to others who need it most. By doing so, we can inspire each other to stay strong and live rich, fulfilling lives while battling breast cancer together. For more information on the breast cancer community and how you can get involved, please contact Pink Ribbon Story Foundation today. You can also follow us on Facebook, Twitter or YouTube for more breast cancer stories and updates or to share your personal breast cancer story.

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Questions to ask Following a Breast Cancer DiagnosisReceiving a positive breast cancer diagnosis can be like getting hit with a ton of bricks. The days following your breast cancer diagnosis can feel like a whirlwind of fear, stress and uncertainty. While those feelings are completely understandable, it’s crucial to start doing research and gathering information about your breast cancer and potential treatments as soon as possible. That’s why we wanted to provide some essential questions that any breast cancer patient needs to have answered before beginning treatment.

The sooner you choose a doctor and work out a breast cancer treatment plan, the sooner your treatments can actually begin. When preparing for your consultations, you may have a million different questions in your head. We recommend writing them down as they come to you, regardless of how minor they seem. With that in mind, some questions are certainly more pressing than others. These are some of the questions that we at Pink Ribbon Story Foundation feel you can use to help better understand your breast cancer and the treatment options that are available to you.

  • What stage is my breast cancer in?
  • Has my breast cancer spread to my lymph nodes or other areas of my body?
  • What are my chances of surviving breast cancer?
  • Do I need a copy of my pathology report?
  • Will I need to undergo more tests before breast cancer treatment begins, and if so, which ones?
  • Will I require chemotherapy?
  • What treatment options do I have?
  • How much time do I have to decide on the best treatment to undergo first?
  • If I have a family history of cancer, will this increase my chance of getting another type of cancer?
  • What should I tell my employer and are there laws that protect my rights as an employee?
  • Should I seek a second opinion, and if so, with whom?

In the fight against breast cancer, knowledge is power. You should remember that these questions are meant to serve as a starting point, not a comprehensive guide. So keep notes and don’t hesitate to ask any questions that you may think of, regardless of how small or trivial they may seem. For additional information you can always reach out to Pink Ribbon Story Foundation. Our breast cancer ambassadors are here to help answer your questions, ease your concerns and provide support when you need it most. Contact Pink Ribbon Story Foundation today.

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