The last year and a half were a challenge to say the least. My mother in law had received news that she had a relapse of breast cancer after 14 years. It was upsetting and difficult on the family as she began treatment. In the midst of that, my mother was diagnosed. I felt like I had been punched in the stomach to learn that both of my children’s grandmothers, my mother, my husband’s mother BOTH had breast cancer. Not only was it upsetting, it was a wake up call. It was a wake up call to me that I needed to be more vigilant about my own health. Clearly, this was happening around me and could happen to me. Thankfully, both my mom and my mother in law have passed through treatment, both had a masectomy and are currently cancer-free. We can’t ask for more. But, it leaves us with the reminder that the awareness and early detection of breast cancer are the key to survival. The last thing anyone wants to think about is if their treatment is covered and if they can pay for out-of-pocket expenses.
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.
The facts about breast cancer
- Breast cancer is the second most common kind of cancer in women, with skin cancer being the first.1
- About 1 in 8 women born today in the U.S. will get breast cancer at some point in their lives.1
- Approximately 231,340 new cases of breast cancer are diagnosed in the U.S. each year.1
- Breast cancer patients with employer-sponsored health insurance spend $6,553 out-of-pocket.2
What Can You Do
Does someone you know have breast cancer – are they in treatment or beginning treatment? Here are the items I prepared for my mom and mother in law – as a kit to help them feel better and support them during chemotherapy. Support is a HUGE factor. The support a woman receives from both her family, friends and insurance can make a big difference.
Chemo Care Kit
What to Include:
Lozenges – Lemon or Ginger – some say the ginger or lemon helps with nausea and can alleviate dry mouth
Socks – the comfier the better!
Nail Strengthener – A common side effect of chemo is brittle nails, a nail strengthener can help with the brittle, breaking nails.
Hand Lotion – alleviate dry skin – especially hands/feet
Tea – Decaffeinated is best
Movies/Membership Netflix/ITunes GC – great to keep busy during long chemo treatments
Book Downloads for Long Chemo Sessions
A Pretty Robe/Comfy PJ Bottoms
Hand Sanitzer/High Quality Hand Soaps – It’s important to steer clear of germs when on chemo.
Neck Pillow – Nice to have during treatments or when recovering at home.
Button Down Shirt – PJ Top – If Having Surgery or Masectomy
Aromatherapy Items – Essential Oils
When those around you go through something like this, it does give you pause to think about your own health and well-being. Here’s what I’m thinking about:
- Early Detection – THIS 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.3 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.
- The American Cancer Society recommends the following for early breast cancer detection in women without breast symptoms:4
- 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.
- 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.
- Consider Your Insurance
- There are insurance policies that can help ease worries about the financial cost of breast cancer if it were to occur. 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 percent5, 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.
Have you or someone you love dealt with Breast Cancer? What are some supports you or they appreciated and found helpful?
I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.
1 American Cancer Society, “Breast Cancer,” accessed on Sept. 29, 2015 – http://www.cancer.org/acs/groups/cid/documents/webcontent/003090-pdf.pdf
2 Everyday Health, “Coping With the Cost of Breast Cancer,” accessed on Sept. 29, 2015 – http://www.everydayhealth.com/breast-cancer/coping-with-the-cost-of-breast-cancer.aspx
3 American Cancer Society, “How the American Cancer Society Fights Breast Cancer,” accessed on Sept. 29, 2015 – http://www.cancer.org/healthy/morewaysacshelpsyoustaywell/breastcancer
4 American Cancer Society, “Breast Cancer Prevention and Early Detection,” accessed on Sept. 29, 2015 – http://www.cancer.org/acs/groups/cid/documents/webcontent/003165-pdf.pdf
5 American Cancer Society, “Breast Cancer survival rates, by stage,” accessed on Sept. 29, 2015 – http://www.cancer.org/cancer/breastcancer/detailedguide/breast-cancer-survival-by-stage
*One Day PaySM available for most properly documented, individual claims submitted online through Aflac SmartClaim® by 3 PM ET. Aflac SmartClaim® not available on the following: Disability, Life, Vision, Dental, Medicare Supplement, Long Term Care/Home Health Care, Aflac Plus Rider, Specified Disease Rider and Group policies. Aflac processes most other claims in about four days. Processing time is based on business days after all required documentation needed to render a decision is received & no further validation and/or research is required. Individual Company Statistic, 2015. Coverage is underwritten by American Family Life Assurance Company of Columbus. In New York, coverage is underwritten by American Family Life Assurance Company of New York. Worldwide Headquarters | 1932 Wynnton Road | Columbus, GA 31999