Guest blog by Samantha Kuhr, Erin Condren Affiliate Manager, blogger at My Travelling Circus, and Breast Cancer Survivor.

Early detection saves lives. I’ll say that again: Early detection saves lives. It certainly saved mine. 

My routine mammogram was scheduled for March 9th, and as the date drew closer, my LifePlanner™ began to fill up with more and more commitments – commitments for me, my family, and my work. I tried to free up space in my schedule and contemplated rescheduling my mammogram, more than once, for a time I’d be less busy (for whenever that would be … 2048 perhaps?). Fortunately, I kept my mammogram appointment, which turned out to be a crucial decision that saved my life.

Four days after my annual mammogram, I was called back for a diagnostic mammogram and taken for an ultrasound that same day. Two days after that, I had a biopsy. A couple of days later (a mere eight days from my original appointment), I received the life-changing words, “You have stage 2 breast cancer.”

When you learn you have the “Big C,” your cancer is graded and you are given a treatment plan, which typically involves a combination of surgery, chemo, radiation, and medication. All four if you hit the cancer jackpot! It was more important than ever to keep track of my endless appointments and tests and have a place to take meticulous notes. I armed myself with the best planning tools to stay organized. 

Here are some of my essentials for medical planning:

Medical Treatment Journal  –  Designed for those battling any short-term or long-term illness.

Erin Condren LifePlanner™ – Designed for those who need a planner, calendar, productivity tracker, and journal in one for work, family, personal organization, all the things.

Breast Cancer Journal – Designed specifically to inspire and support those battling breast cancer. The six weeks of trackers for drain levels, chemo, meds, symptoms, moods, meals, and more are extremely thoughtful and helpful. 

During Breast Cancer Awareness Month, the above items and the full Erin Condren BCRF collection give back to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation to help fund a cure. 

My battle is far from over, and I could be sharing a very different story or not be here to share at all had I detected this disease later. 

If I had rescheduled my mammogram, my cancer would have continued to grow inside my body and potentially spread into even more lymph nodes.

Early diagnosis improves cancer outcomes significantly. The earlier cancer is discovered, the more treatment options are available and there’s a higher chance of survival. Once cancer spreads to lymph nodes, the chance of a cure is significantly decreased.

I’m alive today because I caught it early(ish). 

Every day after surviving breast cancer is a gift.

Here are six breast cancer indicators you should look out for:

  1. Lump in the breast or underarm (mine felt like a tiny piece of cauliflower and was bumpy)
  2. Dimpling in the breast skin (this can sometimes look like an orange peel)
  3. Nipple discharge (other than breast milk)
  4. Pain in the breast or breast area
  5. Swollen lymph nodes
  6. Swelling of the breast

Early detection is the single most important tool for surviving breast cancer. Please learn what to look for and how to check yourself. Most importantly, there is NOTHING more important than scheduling and attending your annual preventative care visits. Please, I urge you to take a moment this week and schedule your annual preventative care visits for you and your loved ones. Early detection saves lives.

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