Breast Cancer Awareness | Be Involved

Did you know? October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. This month is dedicated to increasing awareness of breast cancer, raising funding for research into the cause, prevention, diagnosis, treatment, and cure of breast cancer, and providing information and support for those with breast cancer or for those who may be at risk for breast cancer. Here are six ways that you can get involved:

Offer support! Consider charities that focus on supporting those with breast cancer. Charities that assist with gas cards, wigs, the payment of treatment, makeup classes, etc. are all excellent ways to support the fight against breast cancer. Or, if you know of someone personally affected by breast cancer, offer to assist them. Something as simple as offering to bring them dinner or to help with their housework can be a big relief during a physically and emotionally demanding time.

Donate to research initiatives. Look for charities that use funding to research a cure for metastatic breast cancer.

Know the signs and symptoms of breast cancer. According to Clearview Cancer Institute in Huntsville (www.clearviewcancer.com), any of the following signs and symptoms would warrant a consult with a physician:

  • A lump in the breast or underarm area
  • An enlargement of pores around the breast or nipple area (often described as an orange peel’s texture)
  • Dimpling on the breast
  • Unexplained swelling or shrinkage of one of the breasts
  • An inverted nipple
  • Nipple discharge that is clear or bloody

Complete Breast Cancer Screening. Encourage others to do the same! Unfortunately, many people with early stages of breast cancer do not exhibit symptoms, which makes it critically important for patients to schedule yearly mammograms and to complete regular self-exams. According to cancer.org, the latest guidelines recommend that women should begin having yearly mammograms by age 45 and can begin to have mammograms every other year beginning at age 55. The Centers for Disease Control states that the United States Prevention Services Task Force External (USPSTF) recommends that you speak to your physician about when and how often you should receive a mammogram, as certain risk factors may warrant an earlier exam.

Regularly perform Self Breast Exams. Encourage others to do the same! According to the National Breast Cancer Foundation, self-exams should be completed once a month. For a information on how to perform a self-breast exam, visit https://www.nationalbreastcancer.org/breast-self-exam.

Know the risk factors and share those factors with others! Some factors, such as gender, age, and genetics are beyond your control. But other factors, such as lifestyle and diet, can decrease your risk of breast cancer. Visit https://www.breastcancer.org/risk/factors for a comprehensive list of risk factors.

In-Home Cancer Care

The various stages of cancer present very difficult and trying times in a patient’s life. Whether you or a loved one has been recently diagnosed, in remission or extended remission there are no guarantees that the cancer will ever be gone completely. Many cancer patients require ongoing treatment or periodic therapies, and essentially live with their cancer like it’s a chronic illness—never knowing when it’s going to come or go.

There are different challenges associated with the various stages of cancer. Physical inabilities, mental stress, emotional anxiety and insecurities are just some feelings cancer patients’ may experience. Oftentimes, these very struggles are what make independent living at home too hard to handle. This is why some people chose to move in with family, or into an assisted living facility.

Home Care Plans

AT Home Care knows that most people prefer being cared for in the comfort and peace of their own homes. This is true for those battling cancer and other terminal illnesses. Cancer poses a unique set of concerns and challenges which is why our team creates customized in-home care plans to help each patient live as comfortably and independently as possible. The AT Home Care team can work closely with your doctor, surgeon or oncologist to develop an in-home care plan that fulfills the patient’s physical, emotional and medical needs.

Cancer Statistics:

  • An estimated 1 in 3 women and 1 in 2 men will develop cancer in their lifetime
  • Cancer is the second leading cause of death exceeded only by heart disease
  • In January 2012, almost 14 million people with a history of cancer were still alive

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Chemotherapy Care & Support

Chemotherapy can be a very difficult and challenging part of the battle with cancer. Physical side effects and emotional anxiety really take a toll on patients before, after and during treatment sessions. During this time, they oftentimes need extra care and support. There are many ways in which family and friends can care for, and emotionally support loved ones at home in between treatments. Helping them cope and manage the daily stresses, challenges, physical, and emotional effects of chemotherapy is something cancer patients need most to keep spirits high.

If a friend or loved one is going through chemotherapy and you want to help, it’s important to understand how treatment affects their body. This article discusses some of the physical challenges that treatments impose on the body. Also listed are helpful tips and suggestions for how to best support cancer patients.

Anxiety, depression and fear are very normal responses to cancer diagnoses and chemotherapy. These emotions can stay with the patient long term. The most important thing a loved one or friend can do is listen, and not judge. Relaxation techniques and counseling are good options to help relieve anxiety. Offer to go to a support group or counseling session with the patient to show support and companionship.

Side effects like nausea, fatigue, vomiting, mouth sores and hair loss are a few of many physical effects of chemotherapy. Depending on the type and amount of drug, side effects can range from none to mild to severe. Their affect is unique to each patient. A variety of medications are available to combat side effects, but some can be alleviated with diet and lifestyle modifications.

Diet and lifestyle adjustments are essential to easing side effects. Eating smaller meals throughout the day, and staying hydrated can help with discomfort. Talking short walks may reduce fatigue. Maintaining oral health is important as well. Each patient’s experience with hair loss is different. Support and empathy is helpful if a loved one is dealing with hair loss. Accompanying them to try on wigs and head accessories can make them feel more comfortable.

AT Home Care offers high quality care and assistance within the home to patients as they undergo chemotherapy treatments. We understand the challenges and discomfort that cancer patients go through, and strive to provide the highest level of comfort. Family members, friends and our in-home medical professionals can come together to create a support team for the patient.

Cancer Screening Guidelines for Men & Women

Cancer screening increases the chances of detecting certain cancers early—when they are most likely to be curable. It’s important for both men and women to have regular physical exams and to talk with their doctors about early detection, screening guidelines and family history. Your doctor will review information and risk factors with you to make a well-informed decision about screening procedures. Here is a summary of the recommended screening timeline for both men and women.

Colorectal cancer screening should begin for both men and women at the age of 50. It is recommended that a colonoscopy be performed every 10 years.

Skin cancer is common among men and women of all ages. It’s important to look out for skin abnormalities and immediately report to your doctor. Doctors recommend self skin checks once a month.

Lung cancer is another common form of cancer, but there is typically no screening recommended for those of average risk. Some individuals 55 or older with a history of smoking may be candidates for screening.

There are various forms of cancer that affect both men and women, but currently there are no screening techniques. Kidney and blood cancers, like leukemia and lymphoma are examples of these cancers. Pancreatic is a fast spreading form of cancer, and oftentimes there are no symptoms until the cancer as progressed. There is no sure way to tell if someone has pancreatic cancer. Those with a family history can be tested via endoscopy.

Cancer Screening Guidelines for Men

Prostate cancer screening offers the greatest benefit to men ages 55 or older. Beginning at 50 or older, men should discuss screening for prostate cancer with their health care provider. Those with a family history of prostate cancer should have this discussion with their doctor when they reach 45 years of age.

Cancer Screening Guidelines for Women

Breast cancer awareness and screening should begin early. Clinical breast exams are recommended at least every 3 years for women in their 20’s and 30’s. Once a woman reaches 40 years of age, she should have a mammogram and a clinical breast exam performed once a year.

Cervical cancer screening should begin once women reach the age of 21. Pap smears for women between the ages of 21 and 29 should be performed at least every 3 years. Even if a woman is not planning on having children, or is sexually inactive, regular Pap smears are important to maintaining cervical health.

Ovarian cancer screening is not recommended. An annual gynecologic examination with pelvic examination is recommended as preventive care.

Endometrial cancer and other uterine cancers do not have specific testing guidelines. Around the time of menopause, women should consult with their doctors about risks and symptoms, and continue to have regular pelvic exams.