First, let me just get this out of the way: yes, I haven’t blogged in forever. Not that there haven’t been things to say (there has) and it’s not just because there hasn’t been much time for it (there hasn’t) but simply because sometimes the words don’t come. Sometimes, all the shit that’s in my head? gets trapped there. And my ability to articulate? is basically swallowed whole and all that comes out is equivalent to caveman grunts. Tree pretty. Fire bad.
(Buffy reference right there... cool points to anyone who caught it.)
This week at school, the committee for the Relay for Life is raising awareness (and money, because what good is awareness without fundage) by having the students wear a different color each day for the different cancers out there. Faculty is allowed to wear jeans (jeans!!! Will we pay money to wear jeans?? That is a resounding “hell yes we will!” cause work is somehow more bearable if I am bearing it in denim) if we make a $5 donation and follow the color/cancer of the day.
Today is breast cancer awareness and, having forked over my $5 for the week, I had to actually purchase something pink to wear. Because really? I don’t like pink. I know, pull my girl-card, but I don’t. Still, a quick purchase of a pink tank top – added to the cost of the $5 donation – still worth it to wear jeans.
(It clearly doesn’t take a whole hell of a lot to make teachers happy. Just sayin. The bar is pretty low people.)
So our school nurse, being the social-conscience-awareness-raising type person she is (wow, most awkward sentence EVER and this is why sometimes I go for months without writing and I am leaving it to make a point) sends out an email about the risks and warning signs of breast cancer. Being a person with boobs, I have been well aware of the warning signs of breast cancer for many years. Along with the yearly uncomfortable down-under poking and prodding that we endure, there’s always the awkward feel-your-boobs-for-lumps part of the exam.
Being a girl is super fun.
Part of the drug study I have allowed myself to be guinea-pigged for is to assess if the 8mg dosage of Estriol shows an increased risk of cancer - breast and uterine cancer, specifically. Now, as there are many types of cancer in my extended family, but no breast or uterine cancer, I felt like this was an acceptable risk to take. If I’m not genetically predisposed to breast cancer, that’s got to be better for my chances with the increased estrogen, right?
Oh school nurse, you dash my ill-informed hopes.
Things that can increase your risk of breast cancer include:
Being female. Women are much more likely than men are to develop breast cancer. (Um, okay, guess I’m not gonna escape that one.)
Increasing age. Your risk of breast cancer increases as you age. Women older than 60 have a greater risk than do younger women. (while I’m clearly not over 60, obviously my age is going to increase. I mean, the alternative? really not any better.)
A personal history of breast cancer. If you've had breast cancer in one breast, you have an increased risk of developing cancer in the other breast. (yay! not me!)
A family history of breast cancer. If you have a mother, sister or daughter with breast cancer, you have a greater chance of being diagnosed with breast cancer. Still, the majority of people diagnosed with breast cancer have no family history of the disease. (okay, so I was feeling good with that first part and then? then?? “the majority of people diagnosed with breast cancer have no family history of the disease” fuuuuck.)
Inherited genes that increase cancer risk. Certain gene mutations that increase the risk of breast cancer can be passed from parents to children. The most common gene mutations are referred to as BRCA1 and BRCA2. These genes can greatly increase your risk of breast cancer and other cancers, but they don't make cancer inevitable.
Radiation exposure. If you received radiation treatments to your chest as a child or young adult, you're more likely to develop breast cancer later in life. (I don’t think this applies to me. I mean, I don’t glow in the dark. Pretty sure I’m okay.)
Obesity. Being overweight or obese increases your risk of breast cancer. (fuck.)
Beginning your period at a younger age. Beginning your period before age 12 increases your risk of breast cancer. (fuuuuuuuuuuuuck!!!)
Beginning menopause at an older age. If you began menopause after age 55, you're more likely to develop breast cancer.
Having your first child at an older age. Women who give birth to their first child after age 35 may have an increased risk of breast cancer. (okay, I wasn’t quite that old…. but I was about 15 years past being an unfortunate teenage mother.)
Postmenopausal hormone therapy. Women who take hormone therapy medications that combine estrogen and progesterone to treat the signs and symptoms of menopause have an increased risk of breast cancer. (Um, yeah….. okay school nurse, I think I’ve had about enough now….)
Drinking alcohol. Drinking alcohol may increase the risk of breast cancer. (STOP. RIGHT. THERE.)
No, seriously, stop. They might as well cut my boobs off right now because truly? I am way screwed here. The estrogen, oddly enough, does help the MS….. the MS is going to be a life long thing.... (as will the drinking)….. maybe I just need to take a pre-emptive boob strike - as in, chop them off. We can rebuild them. Make them better. We have the technology. (because really, they do.)
I hate to see what the rest of the week will bring as we “honor” and educate ourselves about other cancers. I have a feeling the hypochondriac in me is going to be suffering from a lot more than MS by Friday. If I am worried about my prostate by the end of the week, someone should be worried about me. Just sayin.