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A Piece of My Mind: National Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Published on: Oct 14, 2022

Photo Credit: iStock/andresr

October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, aiming to recognize the importance of early detection of this disease. Over 287,000 new cases of breast cancer diagnoses are expected in 2022. The good news is that regular screening has been associated with as much as 25% reduced breast cancer mortality.

Unfortunately, everyone seems to know someone touched by breast cancer. This is not just a clinical phenomenon. Breast cancer can touch the people in our lives—partners, mothers, friends, teachers, co-workers, leaders, caregivers, and more—and remind us of the relationships and experiences that matter most to us.

Over the years, the JAMA Network’s A Piece of My Mind series has published various essays written by physicians detailing experiences with breast cancer, from different vantage points. Here is a selection that highlights these personal stories and the people behind the statistics and exam results.

Spinning by Margaret Ryan, MD, MPH

A first-person account of a physician’s life and changed perspective after breast cancer surgery.

Tiny Branches by Vincent Quagliarello, MD

No amount of professional training or clinical experience prepares you for the experience when a loved one is diagnosed with breast cancer. Here, a clinician shares how he and his wife navigated  her diagnosis and treatment

An Unexpected Asset by Joanna Mimi Choi, MD, MPH

A physician looks to the future after receiving a triple negative breast cancer diagnosis when she was 30 weeks pregnant  

Having the Conversation I Encourage Others to Have by Kate Lally, MD

A palliative care physician who specializes in women’s oncology discusses how her own breast cancer diagnosis changed her perspective and her practice 

Scenes from a Mammogram by Lisa Michelle Sieczkowski, MD

The spaces in which we wait for diagnoses frame some of the biggest announcements of our lives. Even the most familiar details became strange and novel during a time of crisis.