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Breast Cancer Awareness Month: Beginning a New Self-Care

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.

In honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, I’m reminded of my mother and her battle with breast cancer. In 2008, my mom was diagnosed with Stage 1 breast cancer and at the time I was only 7 years old. Thankfully, the lump in her breast was benign, and she had a double mastectomy to reduce the risk of the cancer ever returning, but her battle was more than a medical procedure. Her battle with cancer involved her diagnosis, her stress in decision making about which procedure to get, telling employers why she’d be out of work for recovery, telling her friends and loved ones, going through scans and tests, saying goodbye to part of her body, spending months recovering from her surgery, and worst of all, explaining all of this to her 7- and 4-year-old daughters in a way we could understand. This battle was ongoing.

From a hereditary and medical perspective, it’s important to remember that female children of breast cancer survivors should begin yearly mammograms—medical breast exams—10 years before the diagnosis age of their parent, and for immediate female relatives, 5 years before is recommended. For example, if a woman diagnosed at age 40, her daughter would need to get yearly exams starting at age 30 and her nieces at age 35.

As I grew older, I started to understand the importance of lymph drainage and massaging the breast tissue, in order to increase blood flow and reduce risk of any growths or lumps. As a teenager, I learned about different massages to use in order to do all of these things. Now, a young woman in my twenties, I regularly gua sha—an Asian beauty technique to improve lymph drainage in the face using a curved stone—and practice regular self-breast exams and massages. Not only has this practice had health benefits for me, but I’ve begun to feel more confident and comfortable with myself since devoting that time to caring for my body’s systems. I recommend such practices to any female friends, especially those struggling with confidence. Not only is carving out time to care for one’s body is essential, it’s an easy thing to overlook. The lymph system is especially something that we forget about. A healthy lymph flow/ drainage can make one feel more awake, less tense, and can help your body recover faster from a sickness.

While regular lymph drainage massages and breast massages aren’t proven way to prevent cancers, such routines help you to feel better on a daily basis and are good for you! While I can’t post any of the guides that I follow (from Google images), many can be found online. I encourage you to look into some guides to follow and consider starting some self-care routines in honor of this month. This Breast Cancer Awareness Month, remember those: still fighting, have just been diagnosed, in remission, those lost to the disease, and those that have lost loved ones as well.

20 year old Psychology student with a passion for sexual and mental health.
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