Mom Hacks

The real story behind breast cancer and what you can do about it 

by Ali D.

From crisp mornings and falling leaves to pumpkins scattering doorsteps, October has finally arrived. However, unlike the usual autumnal hues of orange, red and brown, another color is in the air: pink. Our country does a great job promoting breast cancer awareness through pink ribbons, football jerseys and fun runs. But watching life ripped from a family due to the deadly grips of breast cancer, I’m not sure the cheery pink hue is the best representation of what breast cancer is all about.

breast-cancer-imageWhat is the real story behind breast cancer and are you at risk?

Breast cancer affects one in eight women. In fact, it is the most commonly diagnosed cancer among women living in the United States. Behind lung cancer, more women will die of breast cancer than from any other type of cancer.

We all know someone who has fought the battle with breast cancer.  To these warriors and their families: we honor you. Among other things, you have attended countless doctors appointments, been forced to surrender modesty and have come face to face with the transient nature of life. You received a crash course in oncology, learning names of the latest medications and becoming more familiar than you’d like with infusion centers.

Take a proactive stance against breast cancer. 

Here are a few steps you can take to get out ahead of this horrible disease. Don’t forget to encourage the women in your life to do the same.


A mammogram is the screening test used for early detection of breast cancer. Scholarly authorities put their heads together trying to determine the best time to begin mammograms. Weighing the pros of early detection with the cons of radiation exposure and false negatives, authorities came to differing conclusions. Some suggest yearly screening beginning at the age of 40. Others suggest mammograms every other year beginning at the age of 50. Because there is room for debate, this is an opportunity for you to discuss with your doctor when to begin breast cancer screening.

Risk Factors:

Breast cancer affects both men and women, but is more prevalent among women over the age of 50. What puts you at increased risk for breast cancer? The Center for Disease Control and Prevention put together this list of risk factors:

  • Getting older (age > 50)
  • Genetics: BRCA 1, BRCA 2 genes
  • Starting your period before age 12
  • Late or no pregnancy
  • Starting menopause after 55
  • Obesity and physical inactivity
  • Dense breasts
  • Certain oral birth control pills
  • Family history of breast cancer
  • Drinking alcohol

If you are over the age of 35, using this Breast Cancer Risk Assessment Tool is an easy way to determine if you are at increased risk for breast cancer. If you are concerned you may be at increased risk, talk to your health care provider today! It is never too early to begin the conversation.

Insurance and Screening:

If you have health insurance, you shouldn’t have to pay a dime for your mammogram. The Affordable Health Care Act of 2007 mandates coverage for all women to receive screening mammograms. That means when it is time to begin your routine mammograms, you shouldn't have to pay a co-pay or co-insurance. If for some reason you get a bill, contact our team at Take Command Health. We are here to help you navigate the confusing world of health insurance.

This month as you bask in the crisp air and autumn hues, don’t miss the pink. Learn your risk for breast cancer and begin the conversation with your health care provider. Ask your family about any history of cancer and encourage loved ones to take time for necessary screenings.

Take Command Health is here to help.

Take Command Health believes in transparency and empowerment in the often confusing realm of health insurance. We use data to provide unbiased information for on- and off-market plans as well as faith-based plans to meet the needs of you and your family. We want to help you make smart decisions and avoid wasting money on the wrong plan. It doesn’t hurt that it takes five minutes and it’s free!

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Picture of Ali D.

Hi, I'm Ali D.! Family Nurse Practitioner and mother of twins, I am passionate about helping people gain access to great health care. After studying at Davidson College and Georgia State University, I began to see the problem of health disparities and insurance frustrations by working at both a cardiology practice and community health clinic. Now, as a 3rd generation primary care provider, I'm hoping to continue the legacy of easing access to affordable health care and promoting healthy living. In my free time you can find me chasing the kids at a park or embarrassing myself at a new exercise class at the YMCA. Don't get too close, you might just find remnants of the twin's breakfast on my shirt!