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October is Pink: Breast Cancer Awareness Month

What is Breast Cancer?

According to a study by the Italian Association for Cancer Research (AIRC), breast cancer is one of the most frequently diagnosed neoplasms among Italian women today and can become particularly serious if not detected and treated in time.

According to the World Health Organization, in 2020, approximately 2.3 million women worldwide were found to have breast cancer, with around 685,000 deaths. By the end of 2020, there were 7.8 million women alive who had been diagnosed with breast cancer in the last five years, making it the most common cancer worldwide. It is caused by the uncontrolled multiplication of certain cells in the mammary gland that transform into malignant cells and have the ability to detach from the tissues that generated them to spread to surrounding tissues or even distant organs. There are various types of breast tumors, but the most common is carcinoma.

A pair of hands holdingHands welcoming a pink ribbon, symbol of breast cancer, on a pink background

Who Is at Higher Risk?

Every woman is at risk, and even 0.5-1% of men can fall victim to breast cancer (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2023). However, there are factors that increase the chances of contracting the disease, including:

  • Increasing age, especially beyond the age of 40;

  • An imbalanced diet with little physical activity;

  • Excessive alcohol or tobacco use;

  • A family history of breast cancer;

  • Exposure to radiation;

  • Hereditary genetic mutations.

Naturally, regardless of these factors, anyone can become a target of this neoplasm.

Symptoms and Treatment of Breast Cancer

The main symptoms may include:

  • A breast lump or thickening, often painless;

  • Changes in the size, shape, or appearance of the breast;

  • Dimples, redness, puckering, or other changes in the skin;

  • Changes in the appearance of the nipple or the skin around the nipple (areola);

  • Abnormal fluid or bleeding from the nipple.

A woman shows her breast scarring after surgery to remove breast cancer

If you notice these signs, the first thing to do is to inform your doctor and undergo specific tests for further evaluation.

If (unfortunately) the diagnosis is breast cancer, there are various ways to intervene and combat it, ranging from hormonal therapy to chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and surgery. Of course, the best therapy must be personalized for each patient and determined solely by a professional medical practitioner (Breast Cancer Treatment). Do not believe, for any reason, in fake news or charlatans who try to swindle you by claiming that lemon, baking soda, or scorpion venom can lead to a cure. This is not the case!

How to Prevent Breast Cancer?

According to a very recent study from July 2023 by the World Health Organization, breast cancer mortality has changed little from the 1930s to the 1970s when radical mastectomy was considered the only beneficial treatment. True progress began in the 1990s when countries established early diagnosis programs linked to comprehensive treatment programs that included effective medical therapies.

Lebubè IG tips: How to detect breast cancer early, advice from real doctors.

Breast cancer mortality, age-standardized in high-income countries, has decreased by 40% between the 1980s and 2020. Countries that have managed to reduce this figure have achieved an annual reduction in breast cancer mortality of 2-4%.

To achieve this, prevention is crucial: self-examination, a balanced diet, and physical activity are an excellent starting point but are not sufficient. Every woman should participate in national screening programs that include regular breast exams, ultrasounds, and mammograms.

Milan Fashion Week Features Women Affected by Breast Cancer

Breast cancer remains a taboo for two main reasons: firstly, our society tends to avoid discussing diseases and ignites the fear of death; secondly, because of the sexual and gender value attributed to the female breast. To challenge these beliefs, in 2017, the "I/DEAL - Breast Cancer Fundraising Fashion Show" was created, a runway show conceived by Cancer Culture to combat breast cancer.

Cancer Culture is a non-profit organization aiming to change the way we perceive and think about breast cancer through art, culture, music, and storytelling.

On September 19, 2023, the "I/DEAL" opened the Milan Fashion Week 2023: 21 women from around the world, living with the disease or having taken invasive prevention measures, walked the runway at the Foyer of the Bocconi University Auditorium.

These women highlighted not only their own lives and scars but also, and above all, their confidence in a new, non-standardized femininity: the beauty that distinguishes warriors moved by the courage to fight a treacherous enemy and the desire to continue living and dreaming.

Stories of Courageous Women

A woman holds her breast, symbol of protection from breast cancer

As the most widespread cancer worldwide, many people have faced or continue to face breast cancer. On social media, you can find daily stories of warriors, of courageous women:

  • Cristina Ghidotti is a 58-year-old woman living in the province of Cremona. In August 2003, she underwent surgery for soft tissue sarcoma in her right breast, undergoing an extended quadrantectomy. Unfortunately, due to the rather treacherous nature of the tumor, she underwent a second surgery in September of that same year, during which doctors performed a mastectomy. Subsequently, she underwent cycles of intensive chemotherapy. "I don't know how or why, suddenly and without even asking for permission, a strange tenant entered my beloved home. Coexistence immediately proved clearly impossible. Fate wanted me to be aware of this intruder and the damage it would cause to every room in a short time. So, despite a shocking, if not dramatic, start, I persisted and, after consulting experts in the 'field,' I evicted it. Not that I haven't caused any disasters; however, luck, which is not always blind, decided that the terrace would suffer the most. Twenty years have passed, the other part of the terrace and the rest of the rooms seem to have weathered well. However, the scars remain, some not fully healed, perhaps just to remind me not to stop taking care of my home."

  • Rachelle Taylor worked in the beauty and fashion industry when she was diagnosed with bilateral breast cancer in October 2020. She was 29 years old and had no family history of the disease. She underwent chemotherapy, a double mastectomy, lymph node removal, and double reconstruction. She found the strength to use her experience as a catalyst for something positive. Now she shares her story and uses Instagram as a platform to support and raise awareness about breast cancer in young adults. After the diagnosis, Rachelle promised to continue dressing up and wearing makeup, two things she considers essential for herself. Even though cancer took away a lot from her, she refused to let it take away her ability to express herself through these creative outlets. Recognizing that the battle against breast cancer is as much mental as it is physical, she wants to help others feel their best. Once in remission, she founded a non-profit organization called Miracle Makeovers. Now, Rachelle provides a complete transformation service to others who have been diagnosed with cancer.

Lebubè's IG educates on breast cancer signs, info from
  • Melissa Berry was busy raising children and managing a successful career in the fashion and beauty industry when she was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 42. Unfortunately, in her case, there was a strong family history of the disease, which is why she had been undergoing regular check-ups from a young age. During one of these exams, the doctor felt a small lump that did not appear on the mammogram. An immediate biopsy was performed, and they discovered she had breast cancer. She underwent chemotherapy and surgery and has been cancer-free for nine years. Throughout her battle with breast cancer, Melissa always tried to look and feel her best. She found beauty tips and tricks on the internet to manage the side effects of her appearance-related experiences, as well as niche products that would help her recover from treatment. This support was so important to her that she decided to create Cancer Fashionista, a blog where she shares her advice with other women facing similar diagnoses. She recently launched her podcast, "Dear Cancer, I'm Beautiful", where she shares product recommendations and self-care tips for cancer patients. Berry has been recognized for her exceptional support of women with breast cancer. In 2016, she received the Courage Award from the Triple Negative Breast Cancer Foundation, and in 2018, she was awarded the Beacon of Light Award by the YWCA Bergen County. She is the current board chair of the Triple Negative Breast Cancer Foundation and served on the organization's board of directors from 2020 to 2021. Through the Cancer Fashionista Foundation and her Instagram community, Berry continues to use her warmth, compassion, and positive energy to support and inspire others.

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