I lost a friend to breast cancer yesterday. I am sad. I am very sad.
I have not gotten myself to call her mom yet because I don’t know what to say.
Lying on my bed last night thinking about her, I realised I didn’t know anything about breast cancer. Yes, I have gone for a mammogram but that was because my office paid for it. Otherwise I probably wouldn’t have bothered to go for one at all.
I just read that one out of every eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer and as much as I want to scream it is not my portion, I know this is serious because it is real. It has taken a sister away from me and I have a friend going through chemo, fighting this awful disease.
How much do we know about this awful disease that is claiming the lives of women all over the world? It doesn’t choose who to attack, it just attacks women and a few men also. I don’t know much but I want to share the most basic thing about breast cancer and early detection as "the best protection is early detection".
How should breast self-exam be performed?
Adult women of all ages are encouraged to perform breast self exams at least once a month
“Forty percent of diagnosed breast cancers are detected by women who feel a lump, so establishing a regular breast self-exam is very important.”
While mammograms can help you to detect cancer before you can feel a lump, breast self-exams help you to be familiar with how your breasts look and feel so you can alert your healthcare professional if there are any changes.
You can examine your breasts in the shower, in front of a mirror or while lying down.
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.
What do i know about breast cancer? I know it stole my friend. I know it is a horrible monster that has caused a lot of pain to a lot of women and now i know how to examine myself for early detection, just in case.
For more on breast cancer, please go to http://www.nationalbreastcancer.org