As you might know, the month of October is all about Breast Cancer Awareness. According to the WHO breast cancer impacts 2.1 million women each year and also causes the greatest number of cancer-related deaths among women.
Having lost my mother to breast cancer many years ago I have my own personal story and experience with this disease which is why I feel compelled to support raising awareness around this special month and topic.
Just simply being a woman is the biggest risk factor for developing breast cancer. With being the most common and wide spread form of cancer amongst women, it affects everyone in one way or another. Besides myself we have another team member who has lost a dear family member to this challenging disease. Wherever we turn in our worlds, there will be stories to share.
All shapes are different, yet every breast needs the same amount of care and attention as breast cancer does not distinguish between big breasts, small breasts or any kind of differently shaped ones.
In order to improve breast cancer outcomes and survival, early detection is critical.
And you and only you can make it work. You are in charge of your own health, you can step into the empowered woman who you are by feeling you and getting to know every aspect of your body, in this particular case all the areas of your breast.
There are two things that you can do for yourself on a non-negotiable regular base:
a. Check your breast at least once a month
b. Maintain your own balance and self-care and love-up your nervous system
The Five Steps of Self-examination
Begin by looking at your breasts in the mirror with your shoulders straight and your arms on your hips.
Are they evenly shaped? Is there any discoloration? Is there any 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
Raise your arms and look for the same changes.
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).
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, keep the fingers flat and together. Use a circular motion.
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, e.g. from nipple in larger circles to the outreach of the breast.
Finally, feel your breasts while you are standing or sitting. Cover your entire breast, using the same hand movements described in step 4. Look for lumps.
Don’t panic if you think you feel a lump in your breast. Most women have some lumps or lumpy areas in their breasts all the time, and most breast lumps turn out to be benign (not cancer). There are a number of possible causes of non-cancerous breast lumps, including normal hormonal changes, a benign breast condition, or an injury.
Make it a routine. Explore the different areas of your breast. Consider where in your cycle you are at and observe differences.
How to maintain balance and self-care
Symbolically breasts are the nurturing aspect of the women, may it be self-nurture or the nurture of another.
Having enough sleep, maintaining a good and balanced diet, putting the state of your nervous system first at all times and choosing the right people around you that are nurturing and supportive.
It is medically proven that trauma relates to the direct evolvement of physical disease. If trauma remains in the body for too long and just gets piled up, in the long run our bodies get ill.
So, what can we do in our lifestyle to prevent getting sick? And as part of a collective called ‘women’ – how can we consider our surroundings and take care of others by reminding them to slow down/take care of themselves?
Look out for yourself and others at all times.
(Images and text inspired by www.breastcancer.org)