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Mommy Musings Care For The Girls
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October is here once again, which can only mean one thing ... it is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. As a woman and an American Cancer Society volunteer, I cannot help but feel it is not only important but also vital that all women realize that it is education, awareness and prevention that are our best bets to overcoming this horrible disease.

While at first glance this column appears to be geared toward my estrogen-toting sisters, it affects our testosterone brothers as well. True, men can also be diagnosed with this type of cancer - the majority, however, are affected in the more obvious way.

Fathers, brothers, husbands, sons all must learn to cope with the realization of not being able to fix it when their loved one is diagnosed with breast cancer. As the woman in their life, puts on her brave face and comforts them with words of 'everything will be okay,' they like the rest of us wonder if it will.

As women, we rally around one another in time of crisis, offering words of encouragement and often times cockiness knowing that our friend, mother, sister, aunt will win this battle.

As medicine has evolved, so, too have the statistics for survivorship. And while this is all good news, the fact still remains that we have a way to go.

Several years ago I shared in a column the story of my mother's best friend who was diagnosed with breast cancer during the late 1970's. At that time cancer was whispered about, not to mention speaking openly about self-exams and mammograms just did not happen. How times have changed.

Late last year I celebrated my 40th birthday, just months after giving birth to my second child. During my doctors appointment following my daughter's birth, my doctor gave me my lab slip for my first mammogram along with a few suggestions of how long to wait before making the appointment.

This of course came up in conversation with my girlfriends as we each discussed turning the big 4-0 (even though we each still feel as if we are 25). As I talked with each friend, I was shocked at how many did not realize a mammogram at 40 is highly recommended, regardless of your history. A woman with breast cancer in their family history would of course be referred for testing earlier than this time.

My friends are all highly educated and well read individuals, yet somehow this detail had slipped passed them. So, like everything in my life, that is when I knew I had to write this column.

Which is also why I feel this column pertains to all of us. The beauty of no longer being in the 1970's (aside from the bad fashion), is that now we can speak more openly and comfortably about 'the girls' (also known as our breasts). It is no longer taboo or inappropriate for a member of the opposite sex to openly discuss something that affects so many.

So, as each of us busily prepares for the pending holiday season, don't forget the girls. Do your self-exam, schedule your mammogram or simply discuss the topic with family members. It is amazing what you learn sometimes about family history, when something is just mentioned in passing.

And for all our testosterone-toting brothers, be strong, be supportive and most importantly, be comfortable. Your support and inquiry could actually be the one to make a difference in the life of a woman you love.

Teresa Hammond is a staff reporter for The Oakdale Leader, The Riverbank News and The Escalon Times. She may be reached at or by calling 847-3021.