Friday, October 1, 2010

Raising Awareness

If you didn't know, October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. It's pretty important to me because fortunately, my Nana is a survivor of breast cancer. So in a way, I feel more "genuine" towards this cause because it has had an effect on me. On a lighter note, it kind of sucks how our best um... accessories can even have malfunctions. Sigh.

All of my people in their 20's, remember to self-check because early detection is the best way to fight it! Aren't sure how to conduct a self-examination? No problem, here's how, courtesy of
  • Lie down and place your right arm behind your head. The exam is done while lying down, not standing up. This is because when lying down the breast tissue spreads evenly over the chest wall and is as thin as possible, making it much easier to feel all the breast tissue.
  • Use the finger pads of the 3 middle fingers on your left hand to feel for lumps in the right breast. Use overlapping dime-sized circular motions of the finger pads to feel the breast tissue.
  • Use 3 different levels of pressure to feel all the breast tissue. Light pressure is needed to feel the tissue closest to the skin; medium pressure to feel a little deeper; and firm pressure to feel the tissue closest to the chest and ribs. It is normal to feel a firm ridge in the lower curve of each breast, but you should tell your doctor if you feel anything else out of the ordinary. Use each pressure level to feel the breast tissue before moving on to the next spot.
  • Move around the breast in an up and down pattern starting at an imaginary line drawn straight down your side from the underarm and moving across the breast to the middle of the chest bone (sternum or breastbone). Be sure to check the entire breast area going down until you feel only ribs and up to the neck or collar bone (clavicle).

Illustration of a breast self-exam

It's best to move in an "up-down" motion, so that you're less likely to miss any areas.

  • Repeat the exam on your left breast, putting your left arm behind your head and using the finger pads of your right hand to do the exam.
  • While standing in front of a mirror with your hands pressing firmly down on your hips, look at your breasts for any changes of size, shape, contour, or dimpling, or redness or scaliness of the nipple or breast skin. (The pressing down on the hips position contracts the chest wall muscles and enhances any breast changes.)

Cancer is one of those things that can creep up on you and once you discover it it's either extremely difficult to remove/control or even impossible to do so. So, I strongly advise everyone(not just women) to visit to learn more information not only about Breast Cancer but about the other forms of Cancer as well. Knowing is definitely half the battle when it comes to our health!