Finding Purpose Amid Health Challenges
- “The Real Housewives of Miami” star Guerdy Abraira, 45, is using her experience as a breast cancer warrior to encourage other women to stay current on screenings and early detection during breast cancer awareness month.
- Abraira discovered her breast cancer during a routine mammogram. The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommends women begin screening for breast cancer at age 40. Women should talk with their doctor to learn about their cancer risk and assess when is a good time to begin annual mammograms.
- SurvivorNet experts recommend performing a monthly breast self-exam to look for anything unusual with your breasts because it can help catch breast cancer between regularly scheduled mammograms.
- Talk to your doctor if you notice one or more of the following symptoms: a new lump in the breast, unusual sagging, new swelling in the breast, changes to the nipple (such as puckering), flaking or redness in the breast, or nipple, discharge (including blood) coming from the nipple and pain in the breast.
“Real Housewives of Miami” star Guerdy Abraira, 45, boldly cloaked herself in pink alongside other brave “breasties” to help raise awareness during breast cancer awareness month for early detection. Her message emphasizes expert recommendations urging women to begin annual screenings at age 40 and younger if they are at high risk of getting breast cancer, such as carriers of the BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene mutation.
“I’m so excited to celebrate this month along with my fellow #breasties – lots going on this month, and I cannot wait to share it all with you all!” Abraira said in an Instagram post.
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“This month is about raising awareness to get your #mammogram done if you’re 40 years and above but self-exams at any age!!! Your life depends on it,” Abraira continued.
This is Abraira’s first time advocating breast cancer during its awareness month as a breast cancer warrior. She was diagnosed with the disease earlier this spring. Since her cancer journey began, the brave mother of two has put a positive spin on her experience despite the occasional rough days that treatment can bring.
Her public journey has become part of her mission to help other women faced with the emotional journey of breast cancer. She will share part of her experience at an upcoming breast cancer-themed luncheon.
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Abraira has continuously credited her family for helping her through her journey. Support from loved ones is extremely helpful because it can help you navigate your emotions, which tend to be fluid amid treatment.
In the leadup to Abraira’s breast cancer awareness festivities, she shared an emotional photo of her husband and two sons as they celebrated her last day of chemotherapy.
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“A day I will never forget – about to end this physical week of hell, and let me just warn you…I’m gonna celebrate this BIG win,” she wrote in an inspiring and hopeful Instagram post.
According to Bravo TV, Abraira is known for being “outspoken and energetic” on the popular reality TV show. She’s had a successful career as an event planner, and her family life includes her husband, Russell, and their two sons.
“I am lucky that this breast cancer was discovered at an early stage it is still scary, of course, but I have love and support from those around me, and that alone is the fuel that I need,” she previously wrote in an Instagram post.
After having surgery, Abraira wrote that “the fight is not over,” and she thanked fans for their loving support.
Helping Patients Understand Why Mammograms Matter
Breast Cancer Symptoms & Self-Exams
Women are encouraged to do regular self-exams to become familiar with how their breasts feel normally, so something like a lump forms it can be easily detected. A self-exam includes pressing your fingertips along your breast in a circular motion.
If you feel something abnormal, such as a lump or discharge from the nipple, you should contact your doctor for further examination.
WATCH: How often should you get mammograms?
Below are common symptoms to look out for:
- New lump in the breast or underarm (armpit)
- Any change in the size or the shape of the breast
- Swelling on all or part of the breast
- Skin dimpling or peeling
- Breast or nipple pain
- Nipple turning inward
- Redness or scaliness of breast or nipple skin
- Nipple discharge (not associated with breastfeeding)
Breast Cancer Screenings
Mammograms are used to screen for breast cancer. Women who haven’t gone through menopause are encouraged to get a mammogram annually between the ages of 45 and 54. If you have experienced menopause, you can get a mammogram every two years.
“We all agree regular screening mammography saves lives,” Dr. Connie Lehman, a professor at Harvard Medical School, told SurvivorNet.
Suppose you fit into the high-risk category for breast cancer, meaning a close family relative has been diagnosed. People at higher risk may have the BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene mutation or had radiation to the chest area when they were young. In cases like this, people in the high-risk category should begin annual mammograms at 30 years old.
What To Ask Your Doctor
If you have been diagnosed with breast cancer, you may have questions about keeping your strength through treatment. Here are a few questions to help you begin the conversation with your doctor:
- What treatment will I be receiving?
- What side effects are associated with this treatment?
- Are there steps I can take daily to help minimize these side effects?
- What physical activity routine do you recommend for me during treatment?
- Do you have recommendations for someone who doesn’t particularly enjoy exercise?
- Can you recommend a dietician who can help me with healthy eating tips and weight maintenance?
- I’ve been having trouble sleeping. Do you have any treatment recommendations?