Its All About Raleigh-Frayser-North Memphis (Nov/Dec2012) Nov-Dec 2012 - Page 12

I T ’ S A LL A BOUT R ALEIGH -F RAYSER -N ORTH M EMPHIS P AGE 12 A Special Norma’s Corner Although I hope everyone goes to the Poll, I am soooo tired of talking about politics. For this edition I am pulling out my nurse’s hat to share something equally important. October was Breast Cancer Awareness month and as a ten year breast cancer survivor, I can’t think of anything else more appropriate. Breast cancer continues to be on the rise. Numbers reflect more prevalent among African Americans but the disease itself is non discriminatory. What I find most alarming is the number of women under 40 diagnosed, some even in their twenties. And for you men out there, men also are being diagnosed with Breast cancer!! Bear in mind it is a disease and NOT necessarily a death sentence; the key being “EARLY” diagnosis. No one should know your body better than you. So ladies and yes gentlemen too I encourage you to know your breast! The task is simple and the reward could be life saving. Simply stand in front of a mirror with arms at your side and LOOK at your breast. Rest one arm on your head continuing to look. Lower that arm and repeat with the other. Doing this every day would be wonderful but not necessary. I do however suggest at least three times a week. Once a month using your fingers start at the nipple and in circular motion move up the breast to the arm pit noting any lumps. You want to get a mental picture of what your breast looks and feels like. The minute you see or feel something different make an appointment to see a doctor. I along with many other women noticed my lump first. I sadly admit that like other women I ignored the lump in it’s early stage and didn’t go to the doctor until it had advanced to a stage III. Yes me, not only a nurse but an advance practice one at that. Cancer never crossed my mind. I had self diagnosed the lump as fibrocystic (benign breast cysts). Fortunately for me my lump was encapsulated and estrogen receptive. Of course I went the entire route of mastectomy, chemo, radiation, reconstruction, you name it. I even had to take an oral cancer med for 5 years that cost about 500 dollars a month. I was not a friend of the insurance company. I don’t wish breast cancer upon anyone but I tell my story because I want folks to know there is a wonderful full life after cancer and it does not take away from who you are. I also want you to see the difference in what can happen with early diagnosis verses late. Stage IV is the most advanced stage with a smaller survival rate. I was knocking on its door. Had I went when first observed it is possible I could have just had the lump removed and not endured the extended treatments. It was not a picnic but for me it was a joyous ride because I was surrounded by so many wonderful friends and family on my journey. They are now known as my Angels and every year in October we celebrate another year of my being cancer free. As there are different stages of cancer there are also different types so don’t be alarmed if someone you know had one type of treatment and someone else another. Remember early diagnosis is the key!!!! Know your breast and encourage all you love to do likewise. The life you save could very well be your own. Although deeply rooted in the political arena, Norma Lester is a retired nurse practitioner with almost 50 years of nursing experience. She practiced across the life span but most rewarding years were serving the elderly and the developmentally delayed. She retired as a Nursing Director for the State of Tennessee. The comments and opinions expressed herein are solely those of Norma Lester and not that of Its All About Raleigh-Frayser-North Memphis or the Shelby County Election Commission. Election Day is November 6, 2012 - Vote!