In the U.S., they mark certain months and/or colors as “awareness” for various causes. October, is known to many as “Breast Cancer Awareness” month. In accordance with that, many companies sell “pink” (the color signifying breast cancer awareness) items, and donate a percentage of the proceeds towards breast cancer research. Why am telling you this? Because it’s the preface of my latest “OMG did my 5 year old REALLY just say that” story. (Sadly I take many of the over the top remarks that she makes as a sort of flattery.)
My family is very pro-breast cancer research, as my mother has had it twice, and has broken all of the “rules”. Which rules? I’m happy you asked. The Mayo Clinic (and pretty much everyone else) says there are five things you can do to help prevent getting breast cancer:
- Limit alcohol. The more alcohol you drink, the greater your risk of developing breast cancer. The general recommendation is to limit yourself to less than 1 drink per day. Mom occasionally had a drink or 2 on weekends. As for me… they better find a cure SOON.
- Don’t smoke. Accumulating evidence suggests a link between smoking and breast cancer risk, particularly in premenopausal women. Mom never EVER took a puff of a cigarette, or anything else. I’m safe on this one.
- Control your weight. Being overweight or obese increases the risk of breast cancer. This is especially true if obesity occurs later in life, particularly after menopause. Mom has the metabolism of a manic squirrel on speed. She’s 5’8 and never weighed a penny over 150, while pregnant. As for me… OH Geez, I better finish writing my will now…
- Be physically active. Physical activity can help you maintain a healthy weight, which, in turn, helps prevent breast cancer. For most healthy adults, the Dept. of Health & Human Services recommends at least 150 minutes a week of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity weekly. See my “manic squirrel” comment above. She is NEVER still… or quiet 🙂 I… am trying. (Still screwed)
- Breast-feed. Breast-feeding might play a role in breast cancer prevention. The longer you breast-feed, the greater the protective effect. She nursed all 4 of us until we were at least a year old. Wow, I got 2 out of 5, not good…
Another “rule” is that once you pass the “10 year mark” of breast cancer remission, you are much less likely to get it again. Mom got it again after 13 years. But, my mom being every bit the stubborn, cantankerous, feisty Sicilian that Sexy Grandma had raised her to be, fought both rounds like a champ. As you can see, even doing everything “right”, won’t guarantee that you will stay breast cancer free, which is why more research needs to be done.
SO, needless to say, my mom, sisters and myself are BIG on supporting breast cancer research. Yesterday my youngest sister’s (and daughter’s) FAVORITE store Ulta (a makeup store) was offering several beauty services at the “cost” of a donation to the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Research Fund. My mom & my youngest sister went to get a facial and hair trim, and surprised my 5 year old daughter by taking her to get pink hair extensions put in.
While there, my youngest sister explained to my daughter not ONLY were they going to get her pink hair extensions, but that the money spent was going towards breast cancer research. As my sister M introduced my daughter Aria to the associate who would be putting in her extensions, the following conversation ensued (I swear this is 100% unaltered):
M: “You are going to get pink hair extensions put in to show support for breast cancer research. Do you know what breast cancer is?”
A: “I know what Breast cancer is! Breast cancer ate Amma’s Nipple!”
Interjection. Mom’s first surgery was a “lumpectomy” where they took the lump and some lymph nodes only. The second occurrence they took the whole tata (aka a mastectomy) . After that, mom had to have reconstruction done, since she is too active and too well endowed to be left… lop-sided. One day Aria walked in on my mom getting dressed and proceeded to ask my mom: “Amma (what she calls my mom) why you have no boob?” Keep in mind that Aria asks “WHY” to E-V-E-R-Y-T-H-I-N-G. And as her teacher put it, “she really listens to the explanation, and keeps asking questions so that she understands it.” Sadly this means you MUST give a straight answer, or she will not stop. In light of this, my mom proceeded to explain that she had breast cancer and never bothered to get the “nipple” part of the reconstruction surgery done. The ever-wise and inquisitive 5 year old naturally equated that to mean “Breast cancer ate ‘Amma’s nipple off”.
Getting back to the story. At this point both my sister, mother and the poor lady putting in Aria’s extensions had to lean on the counter to keep from falling over laughing. Then as the laughter began to abate, the conversation continued:
A: “What’s research?”
M: “It’s testing to see if they can find a cure.”
A: “What’s a cure?”
M: “Umm, something to fix it and make it better so it goes away instead of hurting people.”
A: “Like a pill?”
M: “Yes, exactly.”
A: “YES! I wanna help find a pill to keep breast cancer from eatin people’s nipples!”
So there you have it! In honor of October and breast cancer awareness, I ask all of you to please remind your loved ones to get those Mammies-Grammed (aka get a mammogram). Until next time Just SHAVE Your LEGS!, and spread the word that October is the month to “find a pill to keep breast cancer from eatin any more nipples!”