Breast cancer affects one in eight women in America, and more than 2.8 million women are breast cancer survivors. As part of our Power in Pink Campaign, Under Armour is featuring real women who are actively involved in the fight against breast cancer, including Breast Cancer Survivor Ambassadors: Stasi Trout, Jenny Davis, and Kristin Bagby. We turned to them to see what they want others to know about this disease. Here are some highlights from our conversation.
1. Get your breasts checked regularly.
"My ob/gyn detected a very small lump six weeks after a normal mammogram," explains Stasi Trout. “It was my annual appointment, thankfully I always go to those visits; otherwise the lump would have likely been further than stage II A when detected!”
2. Assume it COULD happen to you.
“Growing up, I thought I was at risk for ovarian cancer due to my mom's diagnosis, but not breast cancer,” says Jenny Davis, mom to three and a BRCA1+ gene carrier.
3. Get the doctor to speak in your language.
“I'm a numbers type of person,” says Stasi, “so my medical oncologist graphed the likelihood of recurrence with, and without chemo. Given all the data, I was able to make a very informed decision. Going for a bilateral mastectomy was the only way to go for me regarding removing the cancerous breast tissue ... I did not want the chance of BC developing in the non-affected breast!”
4. Make the decision that feels best to you.
All the women had a team of support to help them: oncologists, nurses, other breast cancer survivors, family, and friends, but they emphasized the need to ultimately trust one’s intuition. “For me, a bilateral mastectomy was the only thing I was comfortable with,” says Kristin. “If I’d had a recurrence someday and felt like I hadn’t done everything I could to prevent a recurrence, I’d be angry at myself.”
5. Give yourself rituals to look forward to.
“I looked at treatment as a celebration,” explains Jenny. “It was medicine that was going to get me healthy not get me sick!”
6. Know your breasts.
Kristin tells women not to just know their own breasts, but to ask your partner to know your breasts – be aware of any changes or differences.
7. Do self-exams laying down and sitting up.
Jenny emphasizes the importance of self-exams both laying down and sitting up, as the breast tissue moves.
8. Tell your friends what you need.
“A few things that really helped me were: friends sending services to clean my house, and a few care packages I received with fun, wacky, whimsical books and posters,” says Stasi.
9. Remember it’s OK to slow down.
Here’s another tip from Stasi: “I found out that what really matters are the people in my life. Sometimes it's okay to take a break, slow down, and rely on others to help!”
10. Know that cancer can be the beginning, not the end.
“A cancer diagnosis does not have to be a death sentence, it can change your life in an unbelievable way and sometimes in the ways that matter most,” explains Jenny. “I found out just how strong I could be!”
11. Watch out for information overload.
When given a life-threatening diagnosis, it can be easy to feel inundated with facts and opinions. “There's just too much information, it’s overwhelming," says Stasi. To deal with this, her put time limits on her online research.
12. You’ve got to be your own biggest advocates.
“I am BRCA1+ so my kids have a risk of carrying the gene mutation,” says Jennny. “I’m empowering them with knowledge, encouraging my girls to get screening as young adults, and setting a great example of how to take the best care of their health possible ... because I get to be around for that!!!!
To learn more about these amazing women and their stories, watch the video below.