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Breast cancer awareness for young girls

Mom to Mom: A Word from the Weiss

The goal of our book, Taking Care of Your “Girls,” is to take care of our girls by addressing their fears, questions, attitudes, and concerns about breast development and breast health. The information in this book is meant to empower them to become smart, healthy women with strength, confidence, and spirit.

Complete breast development, from the very start to the final finish, occurs over ten years. Growing breast tissue is more sensitive than full-grown breasts—since the food, water, beverages, and air our daughters take in become the building blocks for her new breast tissue, forming the foundation of her future breast health.

Isabel Freidman her mother Dr. Marisa C. Weiss

Lack of information is a dangerous thing

There is growing evidence that today’s young girls have little knowledge about breast health, and this affects their physical and emotional well-being. From under-served young girls with limited access to health care and health/wellness information to the most educated and privileged girls in private schools, lack of information and misinformation about what it means to have healthy breasts are pervasive among girls today.

Our nonprofit organization,, together with the Lankenau Hospital, recently surveyed more than three thousand Philadelphia-area public and private school girls in the sixth through twelfth grades. The results were shocking: Although many girls are interested in hearing about breast health from their doctors, they often encounter different doctors with each visit and are unable to build a rapport enabling them to ask personal questions.

About 90 percent of mothers say they’d like to talk to their daughters about breast health, but only about 30 percent have had the conversation.

Over 30 percent of girls have perceived a normal change in their breasts to be a sign of breast cancer.
More than 20 percent of girls think breast cancer is caused in part by infection, tanning, drug use, stress, breast injury, or bruising; however, none of these is a risk factor.

Few girls know how to keep their breasts healthy.

Breast health is empowering

The way in which girls and young women feel about themselves has a direct impact on the way they perceive themselves in every aspect of their lives. Self-confidence and self-esteem especially, empower young girls to take on the challenges of life and reach their fullest and greatest potential.

It’s us—their moms or other key trusted people in their lives— whom our girls want to be their source of this essential information about breast health. So it’s up to us to get the conversation started in an age-appropriate, sensitive, responsive, respectful, and accessible way. Plus we have to keep our ears and eyes wide open and tuned in to their circles of influence: the people they look up to, the images they aspire to, their media sources, and the always-changing technologies they use to plug into the outside world.

Your love and dedication, supported by the information in Taking Care of Your “Girls,” can make a life-enhancing and life-saving difference in the lives of our girls today and better serve the health of our future generations.

Marisa C. Weiss, Mom and M.D.

Reprinted from the book Taking Care of Your Girls by Marisa C. Weiss, M.D. and Isabel Friedman. Copyright © 2008 by Marisa C. Weiss, M.D. and Isabel Friedman. Published by Three Rivers Press , a division of Random House, Inc.

Sources for more information on breast cancer

American Cancer Society
National Cancer Institute’s Cancer Information Service
Susan G. Komen for the Cure

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