Monday, October 1, 2012

October = Breast Cancer Awareness

October seems to be a month with two colors: Orange and Pink.

Today we are discussing the color Pink. You see pink, you think boobs.

As a woman, I am a owner of 2 of them, as are most humans (men and women)!

Breasts are those things that you don't think a lot about unless they are an issue. I will be the first to admit, I rarely do my monthly self breast exams.

According to John Hopkins Medical Center, "Forty percent of diagnosed breast cancers are detected by women who feel a lump, so establishing a regular breast self-exam is very important."

I went in for my yearly check up in August and during the routine visit my doctor found a small lump that he couldn't figure out if it was anything to be of concern. He pointed it out to me and told me to keep an eye on it when doing my monthly exams. I said yes even though I can't even recall the last self exam I had done.

I breast fed my daughter for 13 months. During that time I would check for clogged ducts after getting mastitis when she was two weeks old. Can you say, ouch?! During that time I would massage any lumps until they were soft but that was the end of anything remotely like an exam.

Well, since August, which means one month has past, that being September, I can say I have done my monthly exams!! I have had these breast for going on my whole 29 years. As I was doing my exam I realized two things:

1. I didn't even really know how to perform it. Sure I new one way and that I was searching for a knot or lump but I didn't realize it had three parts (see below).
2. I have no idea what my breasts feel like.

The second realization made me laugh. My dog was just looking at me as I fondled my breasts laughing. How have I had these things so long and I don't know that they feel like this?!?! I bet my husband would notice a change in my breasts faster than I would.

This really made me think. Why is this not something that is automatic to us as women?

My spot hasn't changed but I am watching it. I think it is just normal tissue (dense tissue) as my doctor assumed but I will watch it as I was told. I also want to make this a normal thing for my daughter to see. If she grows up with mommy doing her self breast exams then it won't seem like such an odd idea.

Below are the directions, along with an image, for doing a Self Breast Exam which should be done monthly. I found these on the National Breast Cancer website.


HOW SHOULD A BREAST SELF-EXAM BE PERFORMED?

1) IN THE SHOWER 

Using the pads of your fingers, move around your entire breast in a circular pattern moving from the outside to the center, checking the entire breast and armpit area. Check both breasts each month feeling for any lump, thickening, or hardened knot. Notice any changes and get lumps evaluated by your healthcare provider.

2) IN FRONT OF A MIRROR 

Visually inspect your breasts with your arms at your sides. Next, raise your arms high overhead.
Look for any changes in the contour, any swelling, or dimpling of the skin, or changes in the nipples. Next, 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, so look for any dimpling, puckering, or changes, particularly on one side.

3) LYING DOWN

When lying down, the breast tissue spreads out evenly along the chest wall. Place a pillow under your right shoulder and your right arm behind your head. Using your left hand, move the pads of your fingers around your right breast gently in small circular motions covering the entire breast area and armpit.
Use light, medium, and firm pressure. Squeeze the nipple; check for discharge and lumps. Repeat these steps for your left breast.
If you need more details, please visit NationalBreastCancer.org
Who else will agree to set a monthly plan for self breast exams?


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