Hey friends,

Happy Wednesday. I wanted to talk to you about something that is extremely important. October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, the annual campaign to increase awareness of the disease, offer information and support to those affected by breast cancer and raise funds for research into its cause, prevention, diagnosis, treatment and cure.

I’ll admit- I’m scared to death of getting breast cancer. Surprisingly enough, my great-grandpa was diagnosed (yes, men can be diagnosed too!) so at some level, it may run in my family. In addition, one of my mother’s best friends was diagnosed. I am happy to say that she is in remission…she is a warrior!

Breast cancer is ugly, and no one wants to think about getting it. However, it’s NECESSARY to start thinking about it early even at a a young age and take the appropriate steps to PREVENT it.

WHY is it so important to start thinking about Prevention?

The American Cancer Society (ACS) 2015 breast cancer estimates:

  • Breast cancer is the second most common kind of cancer in women following skin cancer.
  • Roughly 1 in 8 (12%) U.S. women will get breast cancer at some point in their lives.
  • Each year about 231,340 new cases of breast cancer are diagnosed in the U.S.

WHAT can you do to prevent it?

1.) Do early breast self-exams

Early detection is key. Even as the second most common cancer among women in the United States, millions of women are surviving breast cancer thanks in part to early detection and improvements in treatment. Women in their 20s and 30s should have a clinical breast exam (CBE) as part of a periodic (regular) health exam by a health professional preferably every 3 years. Breast self-exam (BSE) is also an option for women starting in their 20s.

2.) Get screened early

The goal of screening exams for breast cancer is to find cancers before they start to cause symptoms (like a lump that can be felt). Screening refers to tests and exams used to find a disease, such as cancer, in people who do not have any symptoms.

Breast cancers that are found because they are causing symptoms tend to be larger and are more likely to have already spread beyond the breast. In contrast, breast cancers found during screening exams are more likely to be smaller and still confined to the breast.

3.) If you are over 40, get regular mammograms

The American Cancer Society recommends the following for early breast cancer detection in women without breast symptoms. Women age 40 and older should have a mammogram every year and should continue to do so for as long as they are in good health.

4.) Maintain a healthy weight

Obesity increases your chance of being diagnosed with breast cancer. Exercise and eat right to narrow your chances.

5.) Don’t smoke

Research suggests that there may be a link between smoking and breast cancer risk, particularly in premenopausal women.

6.) Breast-feed

Breast-feeding your children offers great benefits to cancer-prevention.

7.) Eat healthy

Choose foods and drinks in amounts that help you get to and maintain a healthy weight. Read food labels to become more aware of portion sizes and calories. Choose vegetables, whole fruit, legumes such as peas and beans, and other low-calorie foods instead of calorie-dense foods such as French fries, potato and other chips, ice cream, donuts, and other sweets. Limit your intake of sugar-sweetened beverages such as soft drinks, sports drinks, and fruit-flavored drinks.

8.) Avoid excessive intake of alcohol

People who drink alcohol should limit their intake to no more than 2 drinks per day for men and 1 drink per day for women. The recommended limit is lower for women because of their smaller body size and slower breakdown of alcohol.

9.) Exercise 

The latest recommendations for adults call for at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity or 75 minutes of vigorous intensity activity each week, or an equivalent combination, preferably spread throughout the week. This is over and above usual daily activities like using the stairs instead of the elevator at your office or doing housework.

10.) Get insured-just in case 

You may think you are invincible, but the truth is that you are not. Consider insurance policies that can help ease worries about the financial cost of breast cancer if it were to occur.

In addition, breast cancer patients with employer-sponsored health insurance spend $6,553 out-of-pocket.

Consider Aflac!

For most U.S. companies, fall marks open enrollment season, which means now is the time you can review your employer-sponsored benefits offerings and choose the health insurance policies that best meet your financial and health care needs.

When caught early, the survival rate for breast cancer is as high as 99 percent, but the diagnosis can be accompanied by an expensive treatment regimen. Aflac’s cash benefits can help policyholders pay the out-of-pocket costs associated with costly cancer treatments.

A cancer insurance policy can be used not only for treatment expenses not covered by major medical insurance, but also for extra child care that may be needed, transportation to and from the doctor or treatments, and even everyday living expenses, such as mortgage payments or groceries.

If you or a family member does end up being diagnosed with breast cancer, or any cancer, you want to be able to focus on recovery not finances, and a cancer insurance policy can help you do just that.

Plus, with Aflac’s recently introduced One Day PaySM initiative, which allows Aflac to process, approve and pay eligible claims in just a day, you can have the cash you need in hand faster than ever before.

(Watch this video video to see how Aflac’s cancer insurance policy helped policyholder Celia through her breast cancer journey.)

How Aflac is supporting the cause this Breast Cancer Awareness Month

  • For Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Aflac will be partnering with the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) again for its second annual “This Duck Wears Pink” campaign.
  • Aflac is selling a variety of campaign-related merchandise including the plush duck, hats and a breast cancer ribbon pin, with all the net proceeds going to the AACR for the specific purpose of funding research aimed at finding a cure for breast cancer.
  • Aflac supports the groundbreaking work of the AACR – the first and largest cancer research organization in the world with a membership of more than 35,000 professionals residing in 101 countries working on the front lines of the effort to eradicate cancer. The AACR backs every aspect of high-quality, innovative cancer research.
  • You can donate and shop for merchandise here.

Guys, let’s be smart about this. According to the American Cancer society, in 2013, there were 39,620 breast cancer deaths. And the sad part is, many of those deaths could have been prevented.

What steps are you going to take to prevent breast cancer?

American Cancer Society
Everyday Health

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.