Tuesday, October 17, 2017

The Top 5 Reasons Women Put Off Getting a Mammogram and Why It’s Not OK

breast cancer awareness, mammogram, working moms
This month is focused on Breast Cancer Awareness to remind women of the importance of practicing prevention by getting mammograms and performing self-breast exams. A screening mammogram not only can detect breast cancer before you have symptoms, but it also makes it easier to treat if found early. However, many women put off having this life saving test for reasons that are inexcusable.

Here are the facts:

  • 1 out of 8 women in the United States will be diagnosed with breast cancer in her lifetime.
  • Breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in women.
  • Breast cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death among women.
  • Each year it is estimated that over 252,710 women in the United States will be diagnosed with breast cancer and more than 40,500 will die.
  • On average, every 2 minutes a woman is diagnosed with breast cancer and 1 woman will die of breast cancer every 13 minutes.
  • African American women have the highest breast cancer death rates and are 40% more likely to die of breast cancer than white women.

If breast cancer is diagnosed at a later stage due to infrequent screenings and lack of routine care, there may be limited and less effective treatment options. Part of self-care is practicing prevention, which means taking the time to visit the doctor for wellness exams and screening tests. So, with all this information, why are we not putting ourselves first and having routine mammograms and performing self-breast exams? Here are some excuses:
I don’t have a family history

Even for women without a family history, there are still other factors that may increase your risk of developing the disease like starting your menstrual cycle at an early age, never having children or having your first child at a later age, older age, starting menopause at a later age, prolonged use of hormone replacement therapy, obesity and alcohol use.

It’s painful

Yes, there may be some discomfort or pressure but it should not be painful. The mammogram itself takes 10-15 minutes. Let’s weight the benefits of getting a clean bill of health or finding a lesion early versus 10-15 minutes of discomfort.

I don’t have time 

This is a terrible excuse for not scheduling a test that may save your life. We must put ourselves first and schedule important tests. Everything else can wait. Put it on your calendar and don’t remove it. Changing this appointment is non-negotiable.  

I don’t feel any lumps when I perform my breast exams

This is only one measure of screening for breast cancer. and is not a substitute for getting a mammogram. Self-breast exams should be combined with screening mammograms. Mammograms can pick up changes in your breast tissue before you can actually discover a lump.

I don’t want to find out

This is simply denial. “Denial does not solve the problem. Denial does not make the problem go away. Denial does not give us peace of mind, which is what we are really seeking when we engage in it. Denial is a liar. It compounds the problem, because it keeps us from seeing a solution, and taking action to resolve it.”-Bill Kortenback  Avoiding the mammogram will not change the potential outcome, it will just prolong finding out earlier about a problem that is easier to combat in the early stages.  

What are the current mammogram screening recommendations?

The American Cancer Society now recommends now that annual mammograms begin at age 45. The new guidelines would look like this:
  • Women 40 to 44 discuss mammography with their doctor, and have the option of starting annual screening if they want it or their risk factors warrant it.
  • Women 45 to 54 receive annual mammography screening.
  • Women 55 and older receive screening every other year, and only discontinue mammography when life expectancy drops below 10 years.

The United States Preventive Services Task Force recommends women age 50-74 get a mammogram, every two years.

The American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology recommends mammograms every 1-2 years starting at age 40 for women at average risk, but no later than age 50 and this should be a shared decision with your provider.

When to start mammogram screening, should be a personal decision between you and your physician based on the risk factors that are specific to your personal and family history.

Remember, under the Affordable Care Act screening mammograms are covered 100% without a copay, deductible or co-insurance. However, if you do not have insurance and are between the ages of 40-64, you may qualify for a free or low-cost mammogram through CDC's National Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program www.cdc.gov/cancer/nbccedp  or by calling 1-800-CDC-INFO

To join our community of professional moms who want to take back their life and put themselves first click here.  

Sunday, October 1, 2017

5 Ways to Create Your Own Happy

happiness, work life balance, working moms
Have you been searching for happiness and not sure what it feels like? Are you wondering how it really feels to be truly happy? How would your life be different? Happiness has been defined by some researchers as a state of well-being where life has meaning and is satisfying. Happiness does not mean feeling good all the time, because we know that this is not possible. We also know that happiness cannot be found through acquiring material things or quickly changing your current situation. Happiness is an emotion that is not brought on by what you attain or how successful you are. In fact, it’s just the opposite. Happiness can lead to your success and help you with achieving your goals. We know that to maintain happiness we need to practice habits that lead to a fulfilled, satisfying life.

According to research by Sonja Lyubomirsky, in her book The How of Happiness, 40% of happiness is within our control, 50% is determined by “set points” (genetics) and 10% by circumstances. So, if 40% is within our control what steps can we take to create our own happy.

5 Steps to Create Your Own Happy

1.           Change your story- If 40% of what bring us happiness is within our control, then you have the power to change your story. Look at your current situation and determine what story you are telling yourself. What thoughts would you need to change to bring happiness into your life? Every day you make choices about your personal life, your career and relationships. These choices are within your control. You choose whether you are going to wake up and exercise or take time for meditation and prayer. You choose if you are going to try to adopt a positive attitude or pay it forward. You choose if you are going to continue to define yourself based on past experiences. You can cultivate happiness by changing your story and adopting the attitudes and choices that bring you joy.

2.           Enjoy the journey- It has been shown that people who choose to live in the present and not dwell in the past lead happier lives. Enjoying the journey means embracing your successes and accomplishments and those of your loved ones. It means remaining optimistic. It also means taking one day at a time, instead of stressing over the future and what you cannot possibly foresee or have control over.

3.           Me Time- Taking time for yourself can also bring happiness. Self-care is important as it reduces stress, allows you to tap into your own feelings, wants and desires and allows you to be more satisfied with your life. Self-care is living a healthy lifestyle through healthy eating and exercise. It’s taking time to enjoy your favorite hobby or activity. It’s also taking time off from work and caring for others, to just have time for yourself.

4.           Relationships- Having positive, meaningful relationships can bring happiness. Relationships provide support and a sense of community. Happiness can be achieved when you spend time with loved ones. The closeness of loved ones through physical contact like hugging can be a positive emotion booster. Happiness can also be achieved by helping others through volunteering and other acts of giving back in our communities. People who have positive relationships are less likely to be stressed and more likely to lead joy filled lives.

5.           Gratitude- Practicing gratitude is another step you can take to increase happiness. It’s a great way to continuously remind you of all that you should be thankful for. Practicing gratitude lowers stress, improves sleep, and boosts your mood. You can journal with pen and paper or use an app. Consistent daily journaling of 3-5 things that you are grateful for, can change your story and create happiness.

Now that you have discovered 5 steps to create your own happy, what action will you take to create a life of meaning and joy? To help you take the first step, I have created a worksheet to get
Download the worksheet here. Enjoy the journey.

A Woman Who Takes Care of Herself, Teaches Her Daughter to Do The Same

“My happiness is tied to how I feel about myself. I want my girls to see a mother who takes care of herself.”- Michelle Obama When ...