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October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and the Village of Park Forest is hosting several events over the next couple of weeks to educate and inform residents about breast cancer.
Margaret Lewis, the Assistant Director of the Recreation, Parks, and Community Health Department, says she's a seven-year survivor and wants other women to know you can beat cancer.
"I just want to get the information out to the residents about the importance of self-breast exams every month," Lewis said. "As African-American women, we have a higher rate of death because, by the time the cancer tumors are found, they are usually in a later stage, making them harder to treat."
Lewis says when people come to Village Hall, they'll notice a table full of pamphlets about various resources that are out there to help women know where to go and what to do - as it relates to cancer.
"The goal here is to spread the word that early detection and early prevention saves lives," said Lewis. "If someone is looking for a place to get a mammogram, they can reach out to the American Cancer Society, or they can call me at 708-283-5663, and I can give them some referrals of area centers they can visit."
Lewis says people must know that breast cancer is not a death sentence. For more information about where to get a mammogram, click here.
Health officials say women can proactively increase their chances of early detection of breast cancer by following three recommended steps in the guidelines set by the American Cancer Society. This three-pronged approach is more effective than any exam or test alone.
A BSE is something every woman should do once a month at home. Breast self-exams help you become familiar with how your breasts look and feel so you can alert your doctor if any changes occur.
The CBE is performed by a healthcare professional who is trained to recognize many different types of abnormalities and warning signs. Your family physician or gynecologist typically completes this in-office exam at your annual exam.
A mammogram is an X-ray that allows a specialist to examine the breast tissue for suspicious areas. Mammograms can often show a breast lump before it can be felt.
According to the American Cancer Society, most women (85 percent) who develop breast cancer do not have a family history of this disease. However, having a first-degree relative (mother, sister, or daughter) with breast cancer almost doubles a woman's risk. Having two first-degree relatives increases risk about three-fold.
As with any condition, knowing your family health history is essential. Women with a family history of breast cancer or a genetic predisposition for the disease should be screened with an MRI in addition to routine mammograms.
Lewis will pass out information at her table in the lobby of Village Hall, located at 350 Victory Dr., at various hours this week.