Sir, your wife has breast cancer
As a man, this is one of the most frightening things I hope never to hear. This simple statement strikes fear somewhere deep inside me because there is nothing I can do about it, or so I thought.
October is breast cancer awareness month so obviously there has been talk on the subject, pink ribbons abound and things like "early detection is the key" get repeated more than once.
As a man I typically give breast cancer the attention I would give any other girly issue. That was until I started thinking about my wife and little girl and how this might affect them some day. So I did a little research, talked to a few people and tried not to look too embarrassed.
Here are some of the things that you as a loving, manly-man need to know. Breast cancer is the second leading cause of cancer related deaths among women. Over the course of a lifetime, 1 in 8 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer and about 1% of all breast cancer patients are men. So what can you do about it? Keep your eyes and ears open and don't be afraid to ask.
Here is what to look for: Breast lumps or lumps in the armpit that are hard, have uneven edges and usually do not hurt; fluid discharge from the nipple, possibly bloody, clear or slightly red and looks like pus; change in the size, shape or feel of the breast or nipple. For example there may be redness; dimpling or puckering that makes the skin look like an orange, according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine.
This may all seem a little too clinical for most men, so to those of you that I just freaked out, the easiest and most important thing you can do is make sure your wife gets her annual exam. It really is easier than you think to see a doctor and for some women there are "Silent" symptoms that only a doctor will be able to detect.
The Yavapai County Health Center, offers a Well Woman Healthcheck (WWHC) at three healthcare centers in Prescott, Prescott Valley and Cottonwood. This program is available for women between the ages of 40-64, who have limited income, don't have insurance or have insurance with a high deductible, or are symptomatic. This program includes a free mammogram, clinical screening, education and individual case management.
If that day comes when your loved one gets that fateful call, you're going to ask yourself, "What do I do now?" You can start with the realization that breast cancer research has dramatically increased the survival rate and yes, early detection is the key.
Your next step will be to visit the brand new BreastCare Center in Prescott Valley. Which boasts some of the newest, state-of-the-art technology used to diagnose and fight breast cancer. Then you can impress your wife by telling her about the warm and inviting atmosphere and that the staff was all handpicked from a large number of applicants. Everyone from the receptionist to the doctors want nothing more than to take care of you and make you feel as comfortable as possible. They even have a "Navigator" to walk you through further testing and treatment options. Nancy Ledoyen, Clinical Navigator, says "The key is get regular screenings, yearly, and start no later than age 40."
Oh! and did I mention that men can get breast cancer as well? That's right, men constitute on average about 1% of all breast cancer cases. It isn't nearly as common as women, so we don't get pink ribbons or anything, but at least now you know what to look for.
So wow your significant other by asking her if she has had her annual exam this year. When she looks at you as if you're from a different planet, look longingly into her eyes, tell her you just want to make sure she is taken care of, because you want her around for a long time. Then ask her what you can do to help. It may take her a while to catch her breath and start looking at you normally but she will and maybe even more.
For more information on the Well Woman Healthcheck, or to find out if you qualify, go online to YavapaiHealth.com or call 928-442-5491 in Prescott or (928) 634-6835 in the Verde Valley.
For more information about the new BreastCare Center call Nancy at 928-442-8900 or go online to YRMC.org
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