The month of October and the color pink are closely associated with breast cancer awareness month. According to the American Cancer Society, an estimated 226,870 new cases of invasive breast cancer are expected to occur among women in the US during 2012; about 2,190 new cases are expected in men. Excluding cancers of the skin, breast cancer is the most frequently diagnosed cancer in women.
Mammograms are one of the most important tools clinicians have to help them evaluate the breast. They are also a critical tool to follow women who’ve had breast cancer. Although mammograms do not prevent breast cancer, they can save lives by finding breast cancer as early as possible.
The American Cancer Society recommends that women have an annual screening mammogram beginning at age 40. If you have certain risk factors, you should discuss an appropriate screening program with your doctor.
A diagnosis of breast cancer can be overwhelming, but women need to know they are not alone. Whether you or someone you know needs emotional or financial support, a ride to treatment or assistance with cooking or cleaning, help is out there. We have put together a helpful list of resources:
The American Cancer Society (http://www.cancer.org/):
- Free 24/7 telephone support with cancer information specialists – call 1-800-ACS-2345
- What Next, an online peer cancer support network
- Reach to Recovery program matches newly diagnosed women with a trained volunteer who is a breast cancer survivor and can talk about coping with a breast cancer diagnosis and treatment
- If you need assistance with rides to treatment, volunteers assist through the Road to Recovery service
- Trained volunteer cosmetologists teach women how to cope with skin changes and hair loss using cosmetics and skin care products donated by the cosmetic industry during Look Good … Feel Better sessions. There is a Look Good…Feel Better program at the Harvard Vanguard Kenmore practice on Monday, December 17, 2012. The program is free and open to anyone. Click here for more information and to register.
- Hope Lodge offers cancer patients and their caregivers a free, temporary place to stay when their best option for effective treatment may be in another city.
The Ellie Fund (elliefund.org):
- Provides transportation assistance to medical appointments, reimbursement for childcare, light housekeeping and nutritious prepared/delivered meals to women across Massachusetts. Program participants must be referred by an oncology physician, social worker or patient navigator.
National Cancer Institute (www.cancer.gov):
- Information for the patient about managing the physical and emotional effects of cancer, information for caregivers, family & friends and more.
- Resources for financial assistance for cancer patients and their families
- Toll free 24/7 breast cancer support in 150 languages
- Breast Cancer Survivor Match program pairs you with a peer counselor who has had the same diagnosis, is the same age or has experienced similar challenges
- Partner Match Program provides support and education for people who are supporting a wife, partner or other loved one through the disease
- Wig & Prosthesis bank offers wigs and breast prostheses for women with limited resources
Cleaning for a Reason (http://www.cleaningforareason.org/):
- This organization partners with maid services to offer free professional house cleaning to improve the lives of women undergoing cancer treatment.
- Counseling by telephone with oncology social workers
- Online or telephone support groups for patients and caregivers
- Telephone or online workshops
- For those who qualify, financial assistance with homecare, childcare, transportation, medication, medical equipment and more
The Hematology/Oncology Department and the Surgery Department of Harvard Vanguard work collaboratively in the care of breast cancer patients. Our mission is to provide our patients with state-of-the-art treatments delivered in a comfortable and compassionate manner.