You never know what news you’ll get after an exam. You may not be in a condition to return to work.” According to the American Cancer Society, women 40 and older should schedule screening exams every year; women in their 20s and 30s should have clinical breast examinations as part of their physicals every three years. In one of her meetings, Jenkins met a 22-year-old who had already had a double mastectomy.
Check your breasts. Lumps are often found through self-examination. Women should also pay attention to other changes in their breasts. The National Cancer Institute (www.can cer.gov) lists a number of symptoms that could indicate breast cancer.
Consult more than one physician. The importance of a second opinion cannot be overemphasized. If Jenkins had heeded the advice of the first doctor, she might have unnecessarily undergone a radical procedure.
Research support groups. Sisters Network Inc. (www.sistersnet workinc.org) is the first national breast cancer survivor organization for black women. With 39 affiliate chapters throughout the country, its mission is to increase awareness of how the disease specifically impacts the African American community. There is also Life After Breast Cancer (www.lifeabc.org), a national program created to raise awareness about the risks of breast cancer recurrence. It’s designed to help women stay cancer free and continue to celebrate their lives.