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National Got Checked Day urges screenings, early discussions about breast health

Published: Aug. 26, 2021 at 6:36 AM CDT
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MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - Thursday is National Got Checked Day which serves as a friendly reminder that routine breast cancer screenings save lives. It also urges to start the conversation and education about breast health early in life.

The “Got Checked” campaign encourages us to talk about family history and how lifestyle can play a role, do regular self-exams, and encourage other women around you to be proactive.

“I think that you never can have a discussion too early when it comes to talking about breast cancer in your family,” said Montgomery Breast Surgeon Dr. Katelin Holmes. “For a long time, breast cancer was kind of a taboo subject, it was hidden a lot times and there was often a stigma associated with it.

Holmes said it is important to have those conversations because breast cancer runs in families a lot of times.

“What we hope to do is identify those families where we can potentially catch a gene that’s causing breast cancer,” Holmes said. “Because we have the tools to identify a lot of those genes now, and we have tools to help patients who may carry a cancer causing gene. Also, I think just having conversations so that women aren’t afraid to start with screenings, or even if they detect something on self-exams, knowing that it’s okay to have conversations with your doctors about those when that happens. And getting the message out that this is very common, but we’re trained specialists, and we want to help women in this community fight this disease.”

As Holmes sees it, this day should be all about early prevention, decreasing fear, promoting self-awareness, and making breast health part of your everyday life.

“Unfortunately, breast cancer will affect 1 in 8 women, which means that somebody you know, likely in her lifetime, will be affected at some point. And while we can’t change certain aspects of developing breast cancer, such as the genes we inherit or just random bad luck, unfortunately, we can sometimes lower our risk factors by certain behavioral changes in our lives, such as daily exercise, lower inflammatory diet. We know that early detection saves lives, which is why we advocate for yearly mammography starting at age 40,” Holmes explained.

Holmes added this day should serve as a reminder to make your health a priority, especially after the last year or so we’ve all experienced.

“It’s important to remember just to get checked because we have been in a year where there are so many worries on our minds constantly, whether that’s secondary to the pandemic or so many other stresses related to that in our lives, sometimes it’s easy to get caught up in that,” Holmes said.

But unfortunately, Holmes added, cancer doesn’t stop because of a pandemic, and we’ve see that.

“We’ve seen that people sometimes have put their health on the back burner while everything else is going on and come in at a much more advanced state, and our goal is to not let those things drop because of other things that are going on in your life,” Holmes said. “So I would say let this be the reminder, if you’re due for your mammogram, if you’re not sure, have that conversation with your doctor, or take today as the reminder to get out, get your mammogram scheduled, and get screened.”

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