As we come to the end of Breast Cancer Awareness month, the aim is to increase awareness every day of the year. This is because in Ireland 1 in 9 women will develop breast cancer in the course of their lifetime, with 2,800 new cases of breast cancer diagnosed each year.
Incidence of breast cancer has risen by 33% in the last 10 years. It’s shocking to consider that every day 7 women are diagnosed just in Ireland.
In Ireland in the past 5 years survival rates have increased from 75% to 82%, this is due to increased education and breast screening.
Cancer occurs as a result of mutations or abnormal changes in the genes responsible for regulating the growth of cells and keeping them healthy. Normally the cells in our bodies replace themselves through an orderly process of cell growth; healthy new cells take over as old ones die out. But over time, mutations can “turn on” certain genes and “turn off” others in a cell. That changed cell gains the ability to keep dividing without control or order, producing more cells just like it and forming a tumour.
We do not fully understand the effect of diet on cancer, however we do know that eating a healthy diet and getting regular exercise are the best ways to maintain a healthy weight which can decrease the chances of certain cancers and coronary heart disease.
I read a great quote recently which said “It’s not the years in your life, it’s the life in your years.” For those I know who have been through cancer, these words sum up their attitude. Life takes on new meaning, moments treasured, memories made. There is a sense of gratitude for health, for a body free of disease. When faced with their own mortality, they say life should be lived to the full, not viewed from the side-lines.
No longer is the word cancer taboo, thankfully like many other once hushed words, it’s out in the open, giving those affected a chance to get much needed support and empathy.
Breast Cancer patients and their relatives gain great strength from the many initiatives organised by Irish Cancer charities, events like the great pink run, pink coffee mornings and painting it pink at work. At Breast Cancer Ireland, alongside amazing progress in their aim of making breast cancer a treatable illness, they invest in education and awareness programmes for schools and women’s groups, spreading the message of breast health to women of all ages.
If you’d like to know more or make contact you can log on to breastcancerireland.com