As we near the end of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, we want to encourage you to continue the conversation with those at risk. With COVID-19 as the primary focus right now when discussing health and wellness, it is imperative that we not forget other significant diseases like Breast Cancer that affect the population. It is still important to be aware of proactive approaches to ensure our loved ones' safety. Oncologists have expressed concern that the COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in dangerous delays in cancer screenings and procedures, which will undoubtedly result in increased mortality. For most of us, Breast Cancer Awareness brings to mind the friends and family members who have had the misfortune to battle this disease with varying degrees of success. Perhaps you have battled Breast Cancer yourself?
For those who know the BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene exists in their family and who have young daughters, there is another challenge and responsibility they face, "when and how do I tell my daughter she is at risk?" It is important to remember that this gene can be passed down through either the father or the mother, and does not require that both have it.Taking a proactive approach will ease anxiety about the devastating possibilities and reassure your daughter of her best interests as she grows into a young woman.
There are differing opinions on when is the right time to have "the talk." Should you tell your daughter in her early teens? Late teens? Or early 20s? When is the appropriate time from an emotional maturity perspective? While timing and maturity should be considered, the main priority should be that she is aware of the significant health risk she faces and the associated life choices that may potentially affect her chances of developing Breast Cancer.
Experts disagree about the appropriate age, as described in a New York Times article addressing this exact topic. But one thing is clear: how you as a parent treat the subject from an emotionally supportive perspective is essential. Remaining calm and caring is vital to your child's ability to process this information in a healthy way. Remembering that children tend to mirror their parents' behaviors, considering this can help outline a communication approach to something as serious as Breast Cancer. If you have significant anxiety as a parent, this will impact your daughter and how she processes the information. If you cannot remain calm, you may want to consider enlisting a professional's aid in the discussion, such as an OBGYN or a therapist with whom she is comfortable. In the end, she must have the opportunity to, over time, make her own decisions and get appropriate medical and psychological counseling. As a developing young woman, processing this information may not be easy. It will impact her medically as well as emotionally and physically. Professional guidance with calm and non-judgmental parental support is the most advisable route. This could be the positive or negative turning point used as building blocks to how she approaches her health risks now and as a future mother.
Wishing everyone a calm and healthful Fall,
Disclaimer: The contents of HealthACR Insights are intended to provide information we hope you find interesting, timely and useful. We carefully research the topics using reliable, highly regarded sources. Citations are provided. We in no way intend to offer clinical advice that you should use to make treatment decisions. Please consult appropriate professionals. HealthACR, LLC is available to help you identify potential options and find providers to meet your needs.