I’m a girl who loves her pink. I mean, loves it. One thing I dislike though – pink jerseys. However, during the month of October I say rock it out. Wear all the pink you possibly can. And remember those close to you that you may have lost to cancer, specifically breast cancer, or may one day have to be standing next to when they are diagnosed.
I lost a very close friend last year to breast cancer. Watching her struggle was one of the worst experiences I’ve had. There was absolutely nothing we could do as her friends, besides be by her side when she had the diagnosis of Stage 4 breast cancer.
In the months to come, she taught so many of us about life and struggles. She was a consistent friend – texting me, emailing me and asking me about my cancer struggle. I can still hear her laugh. Still have her texts – reminding me that it’s okay to have a drink two weeks before my cancer surgery – and still find myself going to her Facebook page.
After losing her, I made a promise that especially after my own diagnosis, I would be much more aware and cautious. I wouldn’t put off cancer screenings (though I will admit I joked about it a few weeks ago to coworkers and got some dirty looks due to that bad joke about insurance). And I’d learn how to do self exams.
So ladies: check ’em. If you are over 20, you should be checking once a mont. Simple steps. Just a few minutes – once a month. A simple reminder of when to do a self-exam: first of the month or a couple of days after your period (sorry, guys!) If you have’t performed a SBE (Self Breast Exam), talk to your OB/GYN for tips and examples. Here are a few steps on how to perform your SBE. (Taken from National Breast Cancer Foundation, Inc.)
Taking a few minutes to do a breast self-exam a minimum of once a month can make a lifetime of difference. Nearly 70% of all breast cancers are found through self-exams and with early detection the 5-year survival rate is 98%. If you find a lump, schedule an appointment with your doctor, but don’t panic—8 out of 10 lumps are not cancerous. For additional peace of mind, call your doctor whenever you have concerns
In the Shower
Fingers flat, move gently over every part of each breast. Use your right hand to examine the left breast, left hand for the right breast. Check for any lump, hard knot, or thickening. Carefully observe any changes in your breasts.
Inspect your breasts with your arms at your sides. Next, raise your arms high overhead.
Look for any changes in the contour of each breast, a swelling, a dimpling of the skin, or changes in the nipples. Then rest your palms on your hips and press firmly to flex your chest muscles. Left and right breasts will not exactly match—few women’s breasts do.
Place a pillow under your right shoulder and put your right arm behind your head. With the fingers of your left hand flat, press your right breast gently in small circular motions, moving vertically or in a circular pattern covering the entire breast.
Use light, medium, and firm pressure. Squeeze the nipple; check for discharge and lumps. Repeat these steps for your left breast.