What, might you ask, has prompted me to create such a guide? No, it wasn’t the internet sh*t-storm that was Angelina Jolie getting a double mastectomy.
I’m not usually one to tackle health-care guides, aside from that of the general toddler variety. This time though, this time I’m all about the moms. It was after the discovery, procrastination over and final diagnosis of (benign, phew!) a lump in my own breast did I realize how irresponsible I had been.
Currently lump-free? That doesn’t get you a free pass from doing regular self breast exams. To that end, even if you DO find a lump, don’t secretly panic (like I did). Lumps found in breasts are benign (not cancerous), 80% of the time.
While there may be no way to prevent getting breast cancer; there are steps you can take to reduce the risks. The best way to find breast cancer early is to get screened. Talk to your health care provider about what screening tests are right for you.
If there is one thing that I learned from my own experience, it’s that knowing the signs and symptoms of breast cancer is one of the most empowering and precautionary measures that we can take; by regularly examining our own breasts. I’ve done quite a bit of research and made things a little less overwhelming for those of you who are just beginning your journey with doing regular self breast exams.
This is a habit you want to start now. And make sure that you’re also consulting with your doctor!
Here’s how to do it…
What you need to know… 1 of 9
A 7 Step Guide To Checking Your Boobs using the relaxed, simple, yet very thorough, Look, Touch, Feel & Check Method.
#1. Look In The Mirror: Hands Down 2 of 9
Get topless. With your arms straight down by your sides, check yourself out. While pining for your body of yesteryears, stand-up straight and look for anything different. Any signs of swelling, discharge, inverted nipples, scaling around the nipple, rashes or soreness should be immediately reported to your doctor. Even if everything looks and feels good, continue through with all of the steps. The beginning stages of breast cancer aren't as obvious.
#2. Touch and Feel 3 of 9
Feel your breasts from the outside of your armpit to your collar bone and below your middle breast, as well as the breast itself. Use your right hand to feel your left breast and then your left hand to feel your right breast and make sure to check out your nipple area well and good. Don't forget your cleavage and go so far to feel up to the tip of your abdomen. That's right.
#3. Look In The Mirror: Hands Up 4 of 9
#4. More Touch and Feel 5 of 9
Lay #5. Down & Repeat 6 of 9
Just to be sure, because 3rd time's a charm and because most doctors recommend doing a self exam lying down with one arm behind your head; that's what I'm going to recommend too. Repeat all the touchy feely stuff again. Basically you are looking for abnormalities like a lump. (Which, as I stated in my opening - finding benign lumps is VERY common, so don't panic!) Work your way in small circles or lawn-mower style using gentle, firm pressure - whatever floats your boat - covering every square inch from collar bone to armpit, to breast, to nipple (gently squeeze your nipple, again looking for discharge), as I detailed in step #2. Keep those fingers flat and together!
If you do find a lump, please, please contact your physician right away. Even if it is cancer, catching things early on means that it is usually treatable.
#6. Ask Yourself… 7 of 9
Such questions as, how often do I check myself? Every month.
Do you have pain in your collar-bone or arm-pit? (Even if you didn't find any lumps?)
Did you see or feel any of the signs or anything else you'd consider abnormal in your self-exam? Be honest. There is no such thing as being too aware with our bodies.
When was the last time you got screened by way of mammogram or clinical breast exam?
#7. Assess & Check 8 of 9
If you haven't set-up a yearly check-up and physical including a screening test (mammogram or clinical exam), with your health care provider...you need to do that.
Monthly self exams coupled with a yearly screening is your BEST defence against breast cancer.
Bonus: Register For Text Reminders! 9 of 9
Through the CoppaFeel Organization you can sign up to get monthly texts reminding you to do your self breast exam. All you have to do is name your breasts. You can do that, right?
Mom Tip: The common myth that women who are pregnant or nursing cannot contract breast cancer is FALSE. Check your boobs!
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Via her humble beginnings, mastering in general mayhem: le petit rêve