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Breast Cancer Awareness: Taking Care of the Caretakers

Written by Annie Keese
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There are few people that haven’t been deeply affected by cancer, especially breast cancer. Grandmothers, mothers, wives, sisters, daughters, friends… Many women who we hold dear may be impacted by breast cancer in their lifetime. 

The CDC reports that as of 2021 “breast cancer is the most common cancer in women in the United States. About 1 in 8 women will get breast cancer during her life.” 

For women age 45 and under, many diagnoses are linked to hereditary markers and often progress to more advanced cancers because they are not discovered in the early stages. Women of all ages and in every role are caretakers and often find themselves at the very bottom of the priority list, letting things like wellness visits and mammograms slip to the wayside. 

So how can we be more proactive in keeping healthcare, breast health or otherwise, a priority in our lives and the women around us? Here are 3 habits that will help you to overcome the overwhelm and take action!  

Healthy lifestyles modeled for every generation.

1. Create a Medical Cheat Sheet

We can all agree that medical paperwork can be the worst part of a visit to the doctor? You can simplify the process significantly if you make yourself a master note that holds all of the pertinent information in one place. It takes the thinking out of the equation for future visits and decreases your dread.  

Start a new secure note in your phone of the commonly required information and ‘lock’ the note with a password. Here are a few ideas of helpful information to keep handy: 

  • Work address
  • Work phone number
  • Emergency Contact phone number and address
  • Insurance info: Policy and Group Number, policy holder’s date of birth
  • Social security numbers for yourself, your kids, or spouse
  • Family history (see tip #2) 

Near the bottom of your note, it’s a good idea to add current medications you are taking and any instructions your provider has given you concerning them. Be wise to secure the note with a unique passcode to protect sensitive information.

2. Get the Bigger Picture

You may be able to connect with someone in your family who can help you to paint a bigger picture of the types of health problems your family has gone through.  You are looking to record significant health histories of direct family members, their relation to you, what age they were diagnosed, and what type of cancer they had.

Cancer, heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and dementia/Alzheimer’s disease are all important things to take note of. If you take just a few minutes to build this document for yourself, you will likely be benefiting many family members who share your family medical history.

3. Set it and Forget it

Set up your next appointment before you leave the doctor’s office so that ‘scheduling a wellness appointment’ doesn’t sit on your to-do list for weeks on end. You’ll get a reminder as the appointment gets near and you will be able to adjust your appointment if something significant is planned during that time. 

We’ve all heard it before, but it bears repeating: “if the air masks drop from the overhead compartment, please secure your own mask before assisting others”. Let’s encourage each other to take care of the caretakers! 

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