Submitterd by: Dr Rebecca Wise
October is the month we are reminded about breast cancer, it’s prevention and cures, and in some cases, how it has affected our family. We thought it would be a good time to re-visit this previously published article in the hopes it will increase your self-awareness, and possibly even an early detection.
Save your Ta-ta’s!
Many of us wear pink in October every year to help raise awareness of Breast Cancer. We have pink ribboned shirts, pink bejeweled pens, and great Facebook status updates. All that lady-centered fun to help “save the ta-ta’s”. But, do you do the simplest thing for your own breasts – are you saving your own ta-ta’s? Do you perform breast self-exams?
It is so simple, and takes only a few minutes. I chose the date of my birthday – the 28th – to do them every month, so then, 12 times a year, I give myself a great birthday present by taking away some of the worry and stress of “what if”. I put a heart on my calendar on the 28th of every month because I love myself enough to do the exam. So, here are the steps from the American Cancer Society:
Lie down with one arm behind your head and use your right hand’s middle 3 fingers with alternating light and medium pressure in small circles to examine your left breast. Pretend there are graph lines on your breasts and move along them up and down, then left and right. Be sure to go over the chest and underarm areas. Then alternate hands and examine the other side.
Now stand up in front of a mirror and put your hands on your hips. Visually examine each breast – using the same imaginary grid lines. Look for any changes in discharge, size, shape, or color including redness, scaling, or dimpling. Remember, no two breasts are alike – compare each one to itself, not to its partner.
Finally, still standing, raise your arms above your head and repeat the visual exam once more.
If you find any changes, write them down – using those imaginary grid lines again. Maybe even draw a picture of what you see that is different. Then when you call your Ob/Gyn you will be better armed to describe it and answer questions.
If you are menstruating or having breast sensitivity, postpone your exam for 5 to 7 days, but mark your calendar so you don’t forget. And finally, if you love your breasts, you can reduce your risk of developing cancer or other abnormalities in a few other ways as well: stop smoking, lose the belly fat, exercise to raise your heart rate at least 3 times a week, and reduce caffeine and alcohol intake. And don’t worry, we are all “works in progress” – let’s just make sure the progress is toward health!
Be Well, Be Wise,