Breast Cancer Awareness
Breast cancer is the most common cancer in American women, except for skin cancers. Currently, the average risk of a woman in the United States developing breast cancer sometime in her life is about 12%. This means there is a 1 in 8 chance she will develop breast cancer. It is the 2nd leading cause of death in women behind lung cancer. It is estimated that 1 in 38 women will die from the disease.
The American Cancer Society’s estimates for breast cancer in the United States for 2018 are:
- About 266,120 new cases of invasive breast cancer will be diagnosed in women.
- About 63,960 new cases of carcinoma in situ (CIS) will be diagnosed (CIS is non-invasive and is the earliest form of breast cancer).
- About 40,920 women will die from breast cancer.
The most common symptom of breast cancer is a new lump or mass. A painless, hard mass that has irregular edges is more likely to be cancer, but breast cancers can be tender, soft, or rounded. They can even be painful. For this reason, it is important to have any new breast mass, lump, or breast change checked by a health care professional experienced in diagnosing breast diseases.
Other possible symptoms of breast cancer include:
- Swelling of all or part of a breast (even if no distinct lump is felt)
- Skin irritation or dimpling (sometimes looking like an orange peel)
- Breast or nipple pain
- Nipple retraction (turning inward)
- Redness, scaliness, or thickening of the nipple or breast skin
- Nipple discharge (other than breast milk)
There is no sure way to prevent breast cancer. But there are things you can do that might lower your risk. Many risk factors are beyond your control, such as being female and getting older. But other risk factors can be changed and may lower your risk.
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Be physically active
- Limit or avoid alcohol intake
For more information on breast cancer risks and prevention, visit the American Cancer Society website here.
Domestic Violence Awareness
Domestic violence is best understood as a pattern of abusive behaviors–including physical, sexual, and psychological attacks as well as economic coercion–used by one intimate partner against another (adult or adolescent) to gain, maintain, or regain power and control in the relationship. Batterers use of a range of tactics to frighten, terrorize, manipulate, hurt, humiliate, blame, often injure, and sometimes kill a current or former intimate partner.
For more general information about domestic violence, including potential warning signs for emotional, physical, or sexual abuse, visit the National Domestic Violence Hotline’s information page: Is This Abuse? Get the Facts.
The National Domestic Violence Hotline – https://www.thehotline.org
How to Identify and Report Elder Abuse – https://www.aplaceformom.com/blog/for-professionals/2-26-16-identifying-elder-abuse/
How to Recognize Trauma in Children – https://www.domesticshelters.org/domestic-violence-articles-information/how-to-recognize-trauma-in-children
Abused Children and Addiction: The Guide to Untangling, Reconnecting and Building New Futures – https://www.drugrehab.org/abused-children-and-addiction/
Creating a Safety Plan – https://www.thehotline.org/help/path-to-safety/
Pregnancy & Infant Loss Awareness
Miscarriage, stillbirth, infant loss, and abortion are commonplace tragedies that affect many women and families in the United States. According to the March of Dimes:
- Miscarriage occurs when a baby dies in the womb before 20 weeks of pregnancy. Among women who know they are pregnant, about 10-15% end in miscarriage.
- Stillbirth happens when a baby dies in the womb after 20 weeks of pregnancy. Stillbirth affects about 1 in 160 pregnancies each year in the United States (less than 1%).
- Neonatal death is when a baby dies in the first 28 days of life, which happens in about 4 in 1,000 babies born each year in the United States.
These numbers mean that more women in our faith communities have experienced abortion, miscarriage, stillbirth, or infant loss than we ever realized. The grief of losing a child due to miscarriage, stillbirth or even abortion is often misunderstood, undervalued, and unsupported in our society.
For example, prior to 2001 women could not get birth certificates for their stillborn babies—only death certificates—sending the message that the time the baby spent kicking in the womb is insignificant. 5 Although this is slowly changing, currently only 34 states now offer this option.
When bereaved parents hear the from the hospital staff to their own family: “Your baby never existed”, they turn to grieving alone and in silence. They begin to believe there is something wrong with their grief. Losing a child in pregnancy or soon after birth can be devastating. If the loss occurred during pregnancy, in addition to grieving the loss of the child’s life, and all the hopes and dreams surrounding that life; the mother may be feeling guilt as she sifts through such questions as, “Why me? Did I do something wrong?”
Not only that, the grief of losing a child can put relational strain on a couple’s marriage. A study by Karina M. Shreffler, Patricia Wonch Hill, and Joanne Cacciatore found that women who experienced miscarriage or stillbirth have greater odds of divorce than women who did not experience a loss. Additional studies have found that parents may have significant difficulty performing day-to-day tasks while grieving the loss of their child. This can affect their ability to work and provide for their family — all while the world around them seems to ignore the loss.
Losing a child affects so many families. We want you to know that you are not alone. Your church is here for you! Please take a look at some of the resources below. If you need someone to talk to we have spiritual guidance available with caring staff who would love to pray with you and help you through the difficulties of losing a child.
*From “Made Known” produced by The ReThink Group and Orange