October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month- Be An Advocate For Your Body!

By on October 8, 2012

Once you are in a relationship, married, or in the throws of parenthood, it is all too common to take better care of your loved ones than yourself.

I would never think about skipping a doctor’s appointment for my child, but I realized that I completely missed last year’s exam at my gynecologist. At the ENT, I was told that I needed speech therapy for my vocal nodules, or I would eventually need surgery. My first thought was that I could never fit speech therapy appointments into my already over-scheduled weekly calendar for myself, even though I do go once a week for my son. The sad thing is, when faced with possible surgery, I immediately thought that two days in bed recovering sounded like a dream. I told the doctor to let me know when I should check into the hospital. How did I get to the point that surgery seems like a vacation?!

October is the time as women, that we finally need to vow to ourselves to spend 5 minutes a month paying attention to our own bodies. Yes, you observe every crevice, birth mark, and freckle on your child. You lovingly regard the intricacies of your partner’s body, but do you know what your own breast tissue feels like?

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It is now or never Ladies! October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and we owe it to ourselves to commit to a monthly self breast exam.

According to Johns 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. 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.”

Breast Cancer awareness is more than just wearing pink. Giving a self breast examination is easy, and incredibly important. These step by step instructions from breastcancer.org demonstrate how in a few short minutes you can empower yourself to be an advocate for your body.

Step 1:

Begin by looking at your breasts in the mirror with your shoulders straight and your arms on your hips.
 Here’s what you should look for:

  • Breasts that are their usual size, shape, and color
  • Breasts that are evenly shaped without visible distortion or swelling
  • If you see any of the following changes, bring them to your doctor’s attention:
  •      Dimpling, puckering, or bulging of the skin
  •      A nipple that has changed position or an inverted nipple (pushed inward instead of sticking out)
  •      Redness, soreness, rash, or swelling

Step 2:

Now, raise your arms and look for the same changes.

Step 3:

While you’re at the mirror, look for any signs of fluid coming out of one or both nipples (this could be a watery, milky, or yellow fluid or blood).

Step 4:

Next, feel your breasts while lying down, using your right hand to feel your left breast and then your left hand to feel your right breast. Use a firm, smooth touch with the first few finger pads of your hand, keeping the fingers flat and together. Use a circular motion, about the size of a quarter.

Cover the entire breast from top to bottom, side to side — from your collarbone to the top of your abdomen, and from your armpit to your cleavage.

Follow a pattern to be sure that you cover the whole breast. You can begin at the nipple, moving in larger and larger circles until you reach the outer edge of the breast. You can also move your fingers up and down vertically, in rows, as if you were mowing a lawn. This up-and-down approach seems to work best for most women. Be sure to feel all the tissue from the front to the back of your breasts: for the skin and tissue just beneath, use light pressure; use medium pressure for tissue in the middle of your breasts; use firm pressure for the deep tissue in the back. When you’ve reached the deep tissue, you should be able to feel down to your ribcage.

Step 5:

Finally, feel your breasts while you are standing or sitting. Many women find that the easiest way to feel their breasts is when their skin is wet and slippery, so they like to do this step in the shower.

Cover your entire breast, using the same hand movements described in Step 4.

Are you committed to a monthly self breast exam?


Originally posted on Daughter In Law Diaries.

About Ali Katz

Ali Katz is a mother of two, an avid runner, and the Creator of Daughter-in-Law Diaries. Here women can interact, share, and gain knowledge of how to better their daughter-in-law/mother-in-law relationship. Daughter-in-Law Diaries offers menus for entertaining with less stress, stimulating topics such as health and beauty, ideas for holidays and family traditions, as well as access to certified therapists ready to answer your anonymous questions....and much more at www.daughterinlawdiaries.com.

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October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month- Be An Advocate For Your Body!