October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and I would like to take this opportunity to ask each one of us to support the women in our lives by encouraging them to get tested.
Did you know that breast cancer is the most commonly occurring cancer in women? It is so prevalent that in the U.S. 12% of women (about 1 in 8) will develop breast cancer in their lifetime, and one in 38 women will die of breast cancer.
Today, with so many technological advances breast cancer screening is becoming easier and cheaper – for the wealthy that is; and to be even more precise – for the wealthy in wealthy countries.
Two-thirds of the world, including people in so-called First-World countries, do not have access to medical screening, let alone preventive screening. This means billions of women are not tested for breast cancer.
In recent years I have learned a lot about women’s health, first through working with Nanox (whose goal is to achieve yearly medical scans per person per year), and then with Illumigyn (which aims to create a new standard of care for women with an innovative endoscope).
One of the surprising things I learned is that even women who have access to preventive medical screening do not go to get tested. Why is that? The sad truth is that many women simply do not engage in self-care, and unfortunately health is no exception.
These extra-stressful times are not helping either. For months now, the medical community has focused on fighting Corona. In addition, older people are especially hesitant to see their doctors and visit clinics because of the risk of infection. In fact, this age group is repeatedly told to stay home.
And it’s not just the elderly that are staying away. Many people hesitate these days to go get treated even when something ails them, so you can be sure many will prefer not to go get a checkup for an ailment they may or may not have. Preventive healthcare has taken a back seat to Corona, and we will all pay for this with our health.
Even in a country like Israel, where women receive regular screening notifications, many are saying to themselves, “let’s skip it this year. What’s the worst that can happen?” To make matters worse, Breast Cancer Awareness Month is getting very little media attention this year.
That is why I think we should all take an active approach in filling the void. First, let’s drive home the fact that to be able to take care of your loved ones, you must first take care of yourself. There is no such thing as health by proxy. We all know the instructions on a plane, that during an emergency one must first put on her own oxygen mask and only then help others. It's the same exact thing with breast cancer screening.
Second, let’s ask all our women friends, relatives, and loved ones, this one simple question: “did you get screened for breast cancer”?