Cancer: the word alone strikes fear in my heart from the depths of places I didn't even know existed.
And while I've been pretty healthy my entire life, as I get older, I find myself thinking more and more about the possibility of battling a health crisis that I might not be as prepared for as I should be.
I've seen cancer seemingly pop up out of nowhere and take the lives of people that have meant the world to me.
When I think of breast cancer in particular, I think about my aunts, my friend's mother, my half sister, her mother, the ones that couldn't beat it, and the countless survivors I've seen on TV or have read about in the media. But why don't I ever think about myself? I subconsciously check my breasts frequently, so I think I "know my girls" pretty well. They have lives of their own, they even have nicknames, but—I'm ashamed to admit— their health hasn't always been a priority. The truth is, I've never felt I had the right kind of resources to truly understand the risk factors, much less the prevalence of the disease in my own community, or the preventative measures readily available to me—until now.
How well do you Know Your Girls?
Breast Cancer Pecs GIF by CoppaFeel!Giphy
You've probably heard of Susan G. Komen: the world's leading breast cancer organization. In partnership with the Ad Council (the nation's leader of PSA's), they recently launched KnowYourGirls, an initiative that aims to educate and inspire black women to understand their risk for breast cancer and take charge of their breast health. The American Cancer Society recently revealed some startling facts in their research publication, entitled Cancer; Facts & Figures for African-Americans 2016-2018:
Black women in the U.S. are 40 percent more likely to die from breast cancer than white women, and a recent study found that while 92 percent of black women agree breast health is important, only 25 percent of women have recently discussed breast health with their family, friends, or colleagues and only 17 percent have taken steps to understand their risk for breast cancer.
That's where the Know Your Girls campaign wants to step in by helping to empower black women to not only know their risk factors and pay more attention to their breast health, but to also begin to diminish the fear associated with the disease. Lisa Sherman, the President and CEO of the Ad Council, feels that the campaign introduces an unprecedented way for black women to embrace our sisterhood while educating and empowering each other about the importance of breast health:
The Know Your Girls campaign introduces breast cancer education through a celebration of the powerful sisterhood between black women. Instead of focusing on fear, the campaign provides tools and information that can help black women feel ownership around their breast health and encourages the sharing of those resources and messages with the women who support them throughout their lives.
The campaign has bold goals beyond breast health education. The Know Your Girls campaign is aimed at black women because the disparity in our mortality rates compared to white women is so great. Susan G. Komen's goal is to reduce the current 40,000 annual breast cancer deaths by 50 percent in the U.S. by 2026. This goal cannot be achieved without educating and equipping black women with the tools they need to prevent and/or fight this deadly disease. According to Steve Stoute, Founder and CEO of Translation, "Creating a healthy dialogue between women of color, their fears, and their breasts is a critical step towards eradication."
So what are you waiting for? Head over to KnowYourGirls.org to get more details on the statistics, read personal stories, get informed and get involved in this important discussion.
Don't forget to pass this info on to your friends and family, too. Your girls will thank you!
Featured image by Shutterstock
Michelle Schmitz is a writer and editor based in Washington, DC originally from Ft Lauderdale, FL. A self-described ambivert, you can find her figuring out ways to read more than her monthly limit of The New York Times, attending concerts, and being a badass, multi-tasking supermom. She also runs her own blog MichelleSasha.com. Keep up with her latest moves on IG: @michellesashawrites and Twitter: @michellesashas
This article is in partnership with Sensodyne.
Our teeth are connected to so many things - our nutrition, our confidence, and our overall mood. We often take for granted how important healthy teeth are, until issues like tooth sensitivity or gum recession come to remind us. Like most things related to our bodies, prevention is the best medicine. Here are five things you can do immediately to improve your oral hygiene, prevent tooth sensitivity, and avoid dental issues down the road.
1) Go Easy On the Rough Brushing: Brushing your teeth is and always will be priority number one in the oral hygiene department. No surprises there! However, there is such a thing as applying too much pressure when brushing…and that can lead to problems over time. Use a toothbrush with soft bristles and brush in smooth, circular motions. It may seem counterintuitive, but a gentle approach to brushing is the most effective way to clean those pearly whites without wearing away enamel and exposing sensitive areas of the teeth.
2) Use A Desensitizing Toothpaste: As everyone knows, mouth pain can be highly uncomfortable; but tooth sensitivity is a whole different beast. Hot weather favorites like ice cream and popsicles have the ability to trigger tooth sensitivity, which might make you want to stay away from icy foods altogether. But as always, prevention is the best medicine here. Switching to a toothpaste like Sensodyne’s Sensitivity & Gum toothpaste specifically designed for sensitive teeth will help build a protective layer over sensitive areas of the tooth. Over time, those sharp sensations that occur with extremely cold foods will subside, and you’ll be back to treating yourself to your icy faves like this one!
3) Floss, Rinse, Brush. (And In That Order!): Have you ever heard the saying, “It’s not what you do, but how you do it”? Well, the same thing applies to taking care of your teeth. Even if you are flossing and brushing religiously, you could be missing out on some of the benefits simply because you aren’t doing so in the right order. Flossing is best to do before brushing because it removes food particles and plaque from places your toothbrush can’t reach. After a proper flossing sesh, it is important to rinse out your mouth with water after. Finally, you can whip out your toothbrush and get to brushing. Though many of us commonly rinse with water after brushing to remove excess toothpaste, it may not be the best thing for our teeth. That’s because fluoride, the active ingredient in toothpaste that protects your enamel, works best when it gets to sit on the teeth and continue working its magic. Rinsing with water after brushing doesn’t let the toothpaste go to work like it really can. Changing up your order may take some getting used to, but over time, you’ll see the difference.
4) Stay Hydrated: Upping your water supply is a no-fail way to level up your health overall, and your teeth are no exception to this rule. Drinking water not only helps maintain a healthy pH balance in your mouth, but it also washes away residue and acids that can cause enamel erosion. It also helps you steer clear of dry mouth, which is a gateway to bad breath. And who needs that?
5) Show Your Gums Some Love: When it comes to improving your smile, you may be laser-focused on getting your teeth whiter, straighter, and overall healthier. Rightfully so, as these are all attributes of a megawatt smile; but you certainly don’t want to leave gum health out of the equation. If you neglect your gums, you’ll start to notice the effects of plaque buildup, which can irritate the gums and cause gingivitis, the earliest stage of gum disease. Seeing blood while brushing and flossing is a tell-tale sign that your gums are suffering. You may also experience gum recession — a condition where the gum tissue surrounding your teeth pulls back, exposing more of your tooth. Brushing at least twice a day with a gum-protecting toothpaste like Sensodyne Sensitivity and Gum, coupled with regular dentist visits, will keep your gums shining as bright as those pearly whites.
There’s nothing quite as humbling as navigating adulthood with no instruction manual. Since the turn of the decade, it seems like everything in our society that could go wrong has, inevitably, gone wrong. From the global pandemic, our crippling student debt problem, the loneliness crisis, layoffs, global warming, recession, and not to mention figuring out what to eat for dinner every night. This constant state of uncertainty has many of us wondering, when are the grown-ups coming to fix all of this?
But the catch is, we are the new grown-ups.
As if it happened without our permission, we became the new adults. We are the members of society who are paying taxes, having children, getting married, and keeping our communities afloat, one iced latte at a time. Still, there’s something about doing all these grown-up duties that feel unnaturally grown-up. Enter the #teenagegirlinher20s.
If there’s one hashtag to give you the state of the next cohort of adults, it’s this one. Of the videos that have garnered over 3.9M views, you’ll find a collection of users who are overwhelmed by life’s pressing existential responsibilities, clung to nostalgia, and reminiscent of the days when their mom and dad took care of their insurance plans.
no like i cant explain to her why i had to buy multiple tank air dupes from aritzia #teenagegirlinher20s #fyp
The concept of being a 20-something or 30-something teenager is linked to the sentiment of not feeling “grown up enough” to do grown-up things while feeling underprepared and even nihilistic about whether that preparation even matters.
It’s our generation’s version of when we ask our grandmothers how old they are and they simply reply with, “I still feel 45,” all while being every bit of 76 years old. In this, we share a warped concept of time while clinging to a desire for infantilization.
Granted, the pandemic did a number on our concept of time. Many of us who started the pandemic in our early or mid-20s missed out on three fundamental years of socialization, career development, and personal milestones that traditionally help to mark our growth.
Our time to figure out and plan our next steps through fumbling yet active participation was put on pause indefinitely and then resumed provisionally. This in turn has left many of us hanging in the balance of uncertainty as we try to make sense of the disconnect between our minds and bodies in this missing gap of time.
Because we’re all still figuring out what the ramifications of being locked away and frozen in time by a global pandemic will have on us as a society, there really is no “right” way of making up for lost time. Feeling unprepared for any new chapter of life is a natural rite of passage, pandemic or not. However, it’s important to not stay stuck in the last age or period of life that made sense to us because self-growth is the truest evidence of personal progress.
So whether you’re leaning on your inner child, teenager, or 20-something for guidance as you fill the gap between your real age and pandemic age, know that it’s okay to grieve the person you thought you would be and the milestones you thought you’d hit before you ever knew what a pandemic was. If there’s anything that the pandemic taught us, it’s that we have the power to reimagine a better world and life for ourselves. And if we tap into our inner teenager as a compass, we can piece together our next chapter with a fresh outlook.
Sure, we’ve lost a couple of years, but there are still some really amazing ones ahead.
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