October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month
October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, so today’s monthly reminder will focus on breasts. Breast Cancer is especially close to my heart, as I was diagnosed in 2016 with Triple Negative Breast Cancer. Stay tuned for our next newsletter on October 15th as I go into detail about my own story.
While the symbol for this month is full of flowers and pink ribbons, breast cancer is anything but pink. One in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in her lifetime, and one in 33 will die from it. Breast cancer does not discriminate – it affects young and old, women and men. Early detection is your best chance of survival, so knowing your body, and knowing what to look for is vital.
Begin by looking at your breasts in the mirror with your shoulders straight and your arms on your hips. Are your breast their usual size and shape? Is there any visible dimpling, puckering, or a rash? Has your nipple inverted? Do you see any signs of fluid coming out of one or both nipples?
Raise your arms up and look for the same changes.
Next, feel your breasts while lying down, using your right hand to feel your left breast and then your left hand to feel your right breast. Use a firm, smooth touch with your finger tips, keeping the fingers flat and together. Use a circular motion, about the size of a quarter.
Cover the entire breast from top to bottom, side to side — don't forget your armpits! You can begin at the nipple, moving in larger and larger circles until you reach the outer edge of the breast. You can also move your fingers up and down vertically, in rows, as if you were mowing a lawn.
Finally, feel your breasts while you are standing or sitting. Many women find that the easiest way to feel their breasts is when their skin is wet and slippery, so they like to do this step in the shower. Cover your entire breast, using the same hand movements described above.
What to do if you find a lump
There are several possible causes of non-cancerous breast lumps, so breathe. A lump doesn't automatically mean cancer.
Call your doctor. If you are near your period you may want to wait to see if it is due to hormonal changes and if it goes away. If you do make an appointment, go to the doctor who knows your breasts and has done your exam before. They can then guide you on your next step.
It is important to not ignore the changes in your breasts. Early detection saves lives. Do your breast exam today, and if you have any questions please do not hesitate to reach out or to contact your doctor.