This post has been sponsored by Sea Bags. All thoughts and opinions are 100% my own.
*The American Cancer Society does not endorse any product or service
The statistics are staggering. About 1 in 8 women will develop invasive breast cancer over the course of her lifetime. In 2016 alone, an estimated 246, 660 new cases of invasive breast cancer are expected to be diagnosed in the U.S., along with 61,000 cases of non-invasive breast cancer. For women in the U.S., breast cancer death rates are higher than those for any other cancer, with the exception of lung cancer.
October is breast cancer awareness month, and if I’m being totally honest with you guys, there was a point in time when I wasn’t all that aware of how common the disease actually was.
5 years ago, prior to when I started having babies, and before I made the decision that I was going to stay at home and raise them, I was lucky enough to have a job that I absolutely loved. I worked in a doctor’s office that treated women who were battling breast cancer. Until I began working there, I had had very little experience with breast cancer in general… No one close to me had been diagnosed with the disease, and as far as I know, no one in my family had ever lost their life while battling breast cancer.
From the moment that I began my career there, my eyes became open to a whole new world. I was totally blown away by the number of women who frequented our office on a daily basis. Whether it was for chemotherapy or radiation treatments, body scans, or first time visits for women who had only recently been diagnosed, hundreds of women, and even a few men, were entering our doors as patients every single day.
Before I knew it, business became personal. It was inevitable. I was in a position where I was witnessing, day in and day out, the effects of this disease on our patients and their families. It broke my heart to watch these women and men, who had just been going about their lives unexpectedly when they learned of their diagnosis, suffer through their treatments and testing.
It broke my heart, and it made me more aware.
The reality that breast cancer, or any cancer for that matter, could effect anyone, at anytime suddenly made me take routine cancer checks a lot more seriously. As I learned more and more about the disease and some of the things that could be done to prevent it or to help catch it in its earliest stages, It encouraged me to get involved more and to become an advocate.
Knowledge is the key. The more we talk about this disease, the more aware men and women will be about the ways they can be tested for it, and early detection can be life saving. One of the simplest and most basic ways to screen yourself for breast cancer are monthly breast self-exams. If you find a lump, following up with a mammogram is essential, and after the age of Forty, routine mammograms are a must. If there is a strong history of breast cancer in your family, you can also opt to have BRCA testing done. This is a genetic test that can help you know your chances of obtaining breast cancer.
As you can see, breast cancer is a cause that has become very near and dear to my heart, so when Sea Bags, a company based out of my home state of Maine, reached out to me about supporting their Cure Collection, I immediately jumped on board.
From now until the end of 2016, Sea Bags will be contributing 20% of every purchase from their limited edition Cure Collection to the American Cancer Society. The Cure Collection includes the gorgeous Pink Stripe Cure Tote and Wristlet, as well as the Strong Tote and Toiletry Bag.
As a longtime lover of anything nautical style, and an avid supporter of Made-in-Maine products, Sea Bags is one of my favorite companies. They make the most incredible tote bags and accessories out of the recycled sails from boats… how cool is that! They are stylish and durable, and they come in a ton of different designs, but these pink striped bags have officially become a best-loved style.
The fact that Sea Bags has gotten involved in such an incredible cause only made me love them more. Their CEO, Don Oakes was even named a ‘Real Men Wear Pink’ ambassador for breast cancer awareness month. He is among 25 Maine men who have been chosen to increase awareness and to raise money by wearing pink throughout the month of October. If you are interested in contributing to his goal of raising $1500 to donate to the American Cancer Society, you can do so here.
So… what can you do to help spread awareness about breast cancer this month and year round? First and foremost, check yourself. Do an exam at home, and be sure to do them regularly. If you are over the age of forty, get a mammogram, and then get them routinely. If you have a family history of breast cancer and you’re concerned, talk to your doctor about BRCA testing.
Above and beyond that, talk about breast cancer openly, and become involved. Look into donating to a charity that supports the cause. Volunteer at a local cancer treatment center. Check in on your friends and family members and ask them if they have been tested… if they haven’t, then encourage them to make that mammogram appointment.
And lastly, if you’re the shopping type, look for companies like Sea Bags, who donate a portion of their proceeds to the cause.