Breasts, boobs, lady lumps, tits or melons.....whatever it is you feel comfortable calling your "mammary glands"…. your breasts need looking after.
The month of October is International Breast Cancer Awareness Month. So let's all take this on board this month and start getting into the (lifelong) habit of giving our "girly bits" the attention they deserve. Early detection of breast changes gives the best chance of of the most effective treatment.
So yes … I touch myself …. and I encourage you all to do the same.
Early detection of changes and lumps is crucial. Saying that however, we have to remember that the younger we are, the more our breasts are likely to change and have quirky little lumps and bumps from month to month as we continue to develop, grow and establish regular hormonal cycles. However, that doesn't mean you can't get into the habit of doing a self-breast-check every month anyway - you should be getting to know your breasts as intimately as you know your own face and every pesky pimple that sneaks out to make an unwanted appearance. Keep in mind also that breasts are naturally pretty lumpy bumpy individual beings that will change with hormonal levels throughout each month, so it is a good idea to check your breasts at the same time in your cycle so you are indeed comparing apples with apples, or in this case one could say "melons with melons". Medical advice is to get into the habit of doing a breast check regularly every month in the couple of days just after your period. This is the time that hormonally-driven lumps are least, tenderness is at a minimum and you will be able to detect more easily any unusual changes.
You are all individuals with breasts unique to you, so you need to look for things that aren't normal for you:
dimpling or puckering of skin
discharge from nipples
redness, or unusual colour changes
sores, scabs, ulcers
nipples changing shape or direction
any inversion of nipples
unusual pain or tenderness in one breast that isn't typical for where you are in your menstrual cycle (i.e. most breasts will feel tender leading up to the start of your period)
Finding any of these changes does not automatically suggest you have cancer, or even that there is any problem. All it means is that you have noticed some changes that you need to tell your doctor about and ask their medical opinion and their recommendations. You just need to get it checked out.
There are three ways you can check the health of your breasts, and I would suggest incorporating all three into your self-check routine.
Look in the mirror
First with your hands on your hips, and then again with your arms raised above your head. The idea with this is to look for any visible changes.
Check while laying down
With your right hand behind your head, use the finger pads (the soft cushioned bits where your fingerprints are) on your left hand to feel for any changes in the right breast. Use a firm small circular motion to gently move breast tissue around so that you can feel through all layers of tissue down to the rib cage. Also follow a set pattern each time so that you don't miss any bits. Some women like to start at the nipple and follow a spiral pattern edging further and further away from the nipple to the outer edges of the breast. Others like to do a side to side pattern starting from top left and finishing at the bottom right.Then change hands and do it all again on the other side.
Check in the shower
This just involves feeling for changes, just like what you did lying down, only standing this time in the shower. It is really easy as your skin is soft and slippery with the water. You can also do it just standing or sitting somewhere (dry) as well.
For some more detail of these steps and some explanatory pictures as well, a good site I found to have a quick look at is:- http://www.breastcancer.org/symptoms/testing/types/self_exam/bse_steps
Or watch a video if you prefer – just google “breast self-examination” and find one you feel comfortable watching.
Earlier this year my bestie Jerrah and I joined with some amazing women at the @pinkhopeaus on the “Pinky Promise” Campaign. Pink Hope is all about informing, empowering and inspiring women to take control of their own health. The Pinky Promise campaign is about women inspiring and supporting friends and family to look out for and after their health as well. The Pink Hope website (https://pinkhope.org.au/?s=pinky+promise) also can provide you with a lot of ideas and ways to both get to know your risks for breast and ovarian cancer as well as ways to reduce your risks for cancer. There's even a simple screening quiz to help identify any family history of breast cancer. Get to know yourself and your unique risks and do the quiz
... And start touching yourself regularly.
Love and light,