What I want my daughters to know about breast cancer

We all know someone who has been affected by breast cancer. A friend, a colleague, a neighbour, a family member. Their stories can inform, educate and inspire.

Breast cancer will affect 1 in 9 Canadian women at some point in their lives. While the level of awareness and success rates of treatment are increasing year by year, it’s still vital that women who have experienced breast cancer share their stories with the younger generation, as early detection greatly reduces the risk of dying from the disease. Every woman should pay attention to what these breast cancer survivors have to say.

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What do you want your daughters to know about breast cancer?

“Get into the habit of checking your breasts in the shower. If you make it part of your morning routine, it’s easier to remember. Get to know your breasts — every woman’s breasts are different shapes, sizes and textures. If anything sets off an alarm bell, see your doctor right away. And if you’re not happy with the response, go back! Nobody knows your body better than you do — or at least that’s the way it should be.”

— Sandra, 49, diagnosed with breast cancer in 2010

“My daughter is still only young. But when she’s old enough, I’ll tell her that breast cancer doesn’t have to be the end of the world. Education is so important. Young women should be aware of the early signs of breast cancer, the ways they can reduce the risk and the treatment options available to them. Breast cancer is a big part of my life, but I don’t let it define me. I try to be thankful for the experience — I believe it has made me a more tolerant, grateful, thoughtful person.”

— Alison, 46, diagnosed with breast cancer in 2007

How can your daughters protect themselves from breast cancer?

“Listen to advice! Eat well, which does not mean a strict diet and not enjoying food, but everything in moderation. Be active. You don’t have to be a gym fanatic or an Olympic runner, but make active choices. Remember you can get to places without a car — legs work too! Be active by enjoying your environment. Go for a walk in the park, along a canal… Enjoy the fresh air. Have fun, but be sensible. Have a drink, enjoy good wine, but don’t go overboard. What’s the fun in having a headache, being sick and not remembering what you’ve done?”

— Catherine, 36, diagnosed with breast cancer in April 2013

“Quit smoking! There’s definitely a link between smoking and breast cancer. When you’re young and healthy, you kind of think you’re invincible. But nobody is. I want my daughter (and her friends and my nieces and all the young women of the world) to enjoy her life. However, giving up smoking — or even better, not starting in the first place — is one of the biggest ways to reduce the risk of breast cancer.”

— Charlie, 40, diagnosed with breast cancer in May 2013

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