The month of October has passed, but Breast Cancer Awareness should not be limited to just the month of October. †

It should be on everyoneís mind at least once a month. But I find myself to be a little biased when it comes to things like early detection. While I know not everyone will see themselves facing a breast cancer diagnosis, I strongly believe everyone should stay on top of their breast health because it can happen.†

I know, because it happened to me, and I donít want any woman to have to go through the hardships that comes with a breast cancer diagnosis.†

Breast cancer at any age is hard, much less at 25. Itís because of my experience with breast cancer that I urge everyone I meet, male or female, to be sure to have themselves checked out if something looks or feels different. †

Itís because of my experience I pushed doing stories on breast cancer survivors. When I was at Robertson County Newspapers, I asked my boss if we could do a ďPink IssueĒ and he agreed. I designed, wrote and sold all the advertisements for the special section.†

That would be the first of many breast cancer awareness sections I worked on since being diagnosed.

Since that first section, Iíve had the opportunity to meet women and men who have been affected by breast cancer. Iíve heard stories of triumph as they overcame their cancer, stories of acceptance as some dealt with living with an incurable breast cancer and one story that was left incomplete because she wasnít able to finish sharing her story.†

From all of their stories, I found a common need ó the ability to talk with someone who has gone through a breast cancer diagnosis. While the American Cancer Society has a great program called Reach to Recovery, not every breast cancer survivor is aware of the program or has access to a Reach to Recovery volunteer.†

When I was going through my treatment, I was unaware of the program until after I almost completed my radiation treatments. Having the ability to speak with a breast cancer survivor who had already experienced everything would have helped me in so many ways.†

Since my treatment, I find myself constantly sharing my experience to anyone who is about to go through, is going through or has gone through a breast cancer diagnosis. And, Iíve seen how sharing my experiences has helped others and how their experiences would have helped me.†

The American Cancer Societyís office is in the process of certifying volunteers, but the community would also benefit from a local support group.†

Any breast cancer survivors interested in a breast cancer support group, please feel free to contact me with your suggestions and thoughts on how you would like the support group to help you before, during and after treatment.

Amanda Leijaís column is published on the Lifestyles section in the Brownwood Bulletin each Sunday. She may be reached at amanda.leija@brownwoodbulletin.com.