A sobering reminder on what breast cancer is (and isn't)

It's national breast cancer awareness month, which means you'll be hearing plenty of reminders about the importance of early detection, and what you can do to catch the disease before it takes your life. And while regular breast exams are obviously valuable, it's important to remember that the facts behind breast cancer don't always gel with the oft-heard early-detection narrative.

Now, Last Word On Nothing's Christie Aschwanden is serving up a piping hot plate of perspective on the misrepresentation of breast-cancer science in the media:

...the ugly, ugly truth that no one wants to talk about [is that there] is no certainty with breast cancer. Once you have it, there is always a chance of recurrence. There is nothing a woman can do today -not even cut off her breasts - to completely eliminate her chance of dying of breast cancer. Despite the headlines in those women's magazines, there are no foods that "fight" breast cancer. Exercise, a healthy diet, limiting your alcohol consumption might reduce your risk, but only a little. Breast self-exams do not reduce breast cancer deaths, no matter how well you do them.

A woman does not get cancer because she did something wrong or wasn't vigilant enough about screening. Nor does a woman survive breast cancer because she's a "fighter" or has a positive attitude. If she survives it, it's because she was fortunate enough in her misfortune to get a type that responded to treatment.

Today, an estimated 150,000 Americans are living with metastatic breast cancer, but their stories are rarely the ones featured in the happy face articles. This October 13 is Metastatic Breast Cancer Awareness Day. I think it's high time we gave these brave women (and men) their due.

Do yourself a favor and go check out the rest of Aschwanden's post. It's a quick read, and while it packs a pretty sobering punch, it's a sensible, no-nonsense punch that is definitely worth taking.

Top image by WishUponACupcake via LWON