Last night I attended a monthly presentation & discussion group for women, where the theme was ‘Breast Care Awareness’. This month, October, is Breast Cancer Awareness month – which you may be familiar with as there are many initiatives and events on with this theme. The event that I attended offered a very different approach in the way breasts are currently viewed and discussed. There are many breast awareness campaigns that assist women in being aware of and detecting changes in their breasts, due to the very high prevalence of breast cancer in our society today.
There is still debate in medical circles about whether women should be examining their breasts, and how often/when GPs should be offering breast examination, due to the risk of causing ‘false alarm’ or causing harm from investigating lumps that may never cause concern. Likewise, there is controversy about breast screening programs (usually mammogram), and whether they are picking up too many early cancers that would otherwise have resolved, without invasive testing/treatment. From this couple of sentences alone – and no doubt what we see in the media from day to day, we can see that much of the conversation today about breasts is centred on breast cancer.
Whilst this is a very important conversation to continue having, there is also further for us to go in how we view and discuss women’s health on the whole.
Often, the discussion about women’s health will be focussed on a particular cancer or condition, but there is a much broader discussion for us to be having. There is so much in how we as women live, that contributes to the illness and disease we experience, that needs addressing.
Coming back specifically to breast cancer as an example, when we look at the statistics of this condition we can see very clearly that something is not right. Our individual risk of cancer, as we know, is impacted on by many things. A large factor, and one as a collective we are still fully to understand and address, is how the way we live impacts on this. Our everyday choices of foods, drinks, activities and the way our emotions interplay with these are all key. For instance, we know alcohol is a carcinogen and is associated with increased risk of breast cancer, as well as breast cancer recurrence. This however has not been enough however for us to say ‘enough’ and stop drinking alcohol, as a collective of women – even when faced with all the intensity of breast cancer diagnoses around us.
It is actually a common occurrence for breast cancer awareness events to serve alcohol…
With these facts in mind, it is therefore important for us to look at the reasons why we choose to drink alcohol – something that is clearly harmful for us as women. Unless we address the reason why we make these choices, they will perpetuate in some form or another as disregard to ourselves. In the case of alcohol – it may be to assist relaxing & unwinding from our very busy & stressful lives, to ‘fit in’ with the crowd catching up for a few chardies, or to cope with the anxiousness we feel in the intensity that the world is today. All of these are very real challenges we face on a day to day basis, and clearly need our attention to be able to ask for the true support that we require.
As women, we have the opportunity to deepen this discussion, and the way we are approaching our health.
What are the things that stop us from honouring and making supportive changes for ourselves in our day to day lives?
If we are really, really honest, what are the things we would change or never do again?
We may feel powerless to change them, and hence push on.
However, from my perspective, I know the power that can come from a group of women getting together and talking about what needs to change.
What is that, for you, today?
For support in changing your relationship with alcohol, and alcohol culture as a whole, join the many who are too with Hello Sunday Morning.