#SCS: Self-Exam-Breast Cancer

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It’s October, and Cushy would be remiss to not mention that October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month! I’m sure you’ve seen the campaigns for things like “Save The Tatas” and “Save the Boobies” but it’s a lot deeper than that. According to BreastCancer.Org, 1 in 8 American women will be diagnosed with invasive breast cancer in her lifetime. Also, “In 2017, an estimated 252,710 new cases of invasive breast cancer are expected to be diagnosed in women in the U.S., along with 63,410 new cases of non-invasive (in situ) breast cancer.”  Breast cancer is the most common form of cancer, besides skin cancer, diagnosed among American women, and in 2017, it is estimated that 40,610 women will die due to their breast cancer diagnosis. And, internationally, it is estimated that 1.7 million women were diagnosed with breast cancer in a study done in 2012. So, as you can tell, breast cancer touches many lives, and affects many groups of people.

So, how does one avoid getting breast cancer? Well, there’s a few things you can do to lessen your chances, and according to the Mayo Clinic, you can do the following:

  1. Limit alcohol.

  2. Don’t smoke.

  3. Control your weight.

  4. Be physically active.

  5. Breastfeed

  6. Limit dosage and duration of hormone therapy.

  7. Avoid exposure to radiation and environmental pollution.

But, please know, breast cancer can also be genetic, so if anyone in your family has had breast cancer, it’s best to start checking your breasts and seeing your doctor regularly.

Well, perhaps you’re asking how to stay on top of your breasts, and how does one check them regularly? A self-examination of your breasts is the easiest thing you can do! It takes only a few minutes, and if you notice any lumps or masses, call your provider to schedule an appointment. It can be as easy as feeling your breasts for anything that feels out of the ordinary, to doing an actual examination. I will walk you through what I do for a self-examination, but I will also link to a legitimate examination guide so you can do your own as well.

My breast exam is usually in the shower and I start with my arm over my head and begin at the nipple rubbing small circles towards my arm pit. Remember, though, to make sure there’s some pressure there, and don’t go too light as you won’t feel anything. I do this over the entire breast, on both sides, and feel for anything out of the ordinary. You can also press down on your breast in a circular pattern, again starting at the nipple, and move outward. This is merely the way I do it, so like I said, here is a much more official guide. This can be helpful as I did, once, find a lump and had to get it checked out. If you do find a lump, it is imperative you call your provider and get in to see a doctor! Mine was nothing more than a hormonal flare-up, but I wouldn’t have known that without seeing my doctor. If you are nervous about doing your own exam, you can always ask your partner as well. Hopefully you and your partner are comfortable with each others bodies anyway, so having them examine you won't be too weird. 

In the end, breast cancer affects so many people. If you start checking yourself, maybe once a month, you’ll start getting to know what your breasts feel like, and when something might feel a bit wrong to you. Please note, if you see discharge or blood from your nipple, see your doctor.

Take care of yourselves everyone! Not only because it’s Breast Cancer Awareness Month but because we all deserve to live happy, healthy and long lives!

 

Liz HaebeComment