Be There for Your Boobies

 

It’s October, which means it’s Breast Cancer Awareness Month. In this article, get educated on the importance of self-exams, mammograms and learn about organizations that support breast cancer patients and survivors.  

 

“That woman with the breast cancer was always someone else out there, not me.  It was the friend at church or the girl I worked with, but not me.  And then... it was me.” - recently diagnosed cancer patient.

 

People don’t think that they are the ones who will be diagnosed with cancer. The diagnosis is surprising and will knock you off your feet. You may seem unprepared and scared. During Breast Cancer Awareness Month we are more aware of breast cancer than any other time. However, this shouldn’t be the case. It is important to stay in touch with your body and get educated. It’s time to learn the importance of self-checks, how to perform them and get introduced to some organizations that support patients and survivors.

 

The Importance of Self-Checks

Breast cancer can develop anytime and can affect anyone. Although women don’t usually start getting routine mammograms until the ages of 40-50, it is important to do breast self-exams and have a yearly clinical breast examination by age 20. Self-breast examinations should be done at least once a month. Johns Hopkins Medical Center states, “Forty percent of diagnosed breast cancers are detected by women who feel a lump, so establishing a regular breast self-exam is very important.” Self-breast exams will make you more familiar with how your breasts feel. If there is anything out of the ordinary it is easier to detect it. If you find a lump you should schedule an appointment with your doctor, but don’t freak out! According to the National Breast Cancer Foundation, 8/10 lumps are not cancerous; however, it’s better to be safe and schedule an appointment.

 

How do I Perform a Breast Self-Examination?

Breast self-exams are important and should be done correctly and thoroughly. Examining your breasts is actually quite simple and should be done in three different ways.  

  1. In the Shower

    1. Use the pads of your fingers and move in a circular motion around your entire breast, moving from the outside to the center

    2. Be sure to check the entire breast and your armpit area as well.

    3. Look for a lump or thickening and hardened knot. If any of these lumps feel unusual or have shown up recently, schedule an appointment with your doctor.

  2. In Front of a Mirror

    1. Look in the mirror at your breasts with your arms by your sides.

    2. Raise your arms above your head and visually inspect your breasts.

    3. Look for changes in contour, dimpling, swelling or changes in your nipples.

    4. Rest your palms on your hips and press down firmly to flex your chest muscles

    5. Breasts are sisters — not twins — but look for any noticeable dimpling, puckering or changes to each breast.

  3. Lying Down

    1. Place a pillow underneath your right shoulder.

    2. Place your right arm behind your head.

    3. Use your left hand and move the pads of your fingers in a circular motion around your right breast. Be sure to cover the entire breast and armpit.

    4. Vary your pressure (light, to medium, to hard).

    5. Squeeze your nipple.

    6. Look for discharge and feel for lumps.

    7. Repeat these steps for your other breast.

 

After reading about the importance of breast self-exams and how to perform one, encourage your loved ones to do the same.  

 

Mammograms, What are They Good for?

Mammograms detect tumors before you are able to feel them. You may be asking, “What can I expect  when getting a mammogram, and how will I get my results?” The American Cancer Society provides some information about what to expect.

 

During a mammogram, you will have to undress the top half of your body, but you will get a wrap to cover up when you are not getting tested. It will only be you and the technician in the room, so don’t worry about being under the scrutiny of anyone besides yourself and the technician (who literally sees so many boobs in a day, they’re used to it). In order to get a proper reading, your breasts must be flattened, but your boobs will only be compressed for a few seconds while their picture is taken. If you feel too much discomfort be sure to tell your technician! They’re there to help you. Next, you will wait for your results. Don’t worry too much. As stated before, 8/10 lumps aren’t cancerous. If you do not hear back within 10 days, contact the facility. You should always be notified of your results. You will also get a copy of your results. This will be a condensed, easy-to-read version. Mammograms do not take long, but they are important. Do not skip your mammogram, and do not wait for a lump to show up. Mammograms can catch cancer early and give you a better prognosis.

 

“As someone recently diagnosed with a fast-growing breast cancer, I’m so thankful for the doctors who always pushed me to keep up with yearly mammograms.  Mammograms were inconvenient and just another thing to add to my busy schedule.  That is until I got diagnosed. The mammogram caught my cancer early, and because of that, I have a good prognosis. I’m not looking forward to chemo or surgery or losing my hair, but I am looking forward to the life I will have after those 6 months are up.  With a team of amazing doctors and a growing circle of friends praying for me, I am truly blessed!”  - recently diagnosed cancer patient.  

 

Organizations that Support Patients and Survivors

There are many organizations that offer support to breast cancer patients and survivors. Here are four different organizations with their personal statements.

1. National Breast Cancer Foundation

The National Breast Cancer Foundation is an organization built on the desire to provide help and inspiration to people who have been affected by breast cancer through early detection, education and support services. The National Breast Cancer Foundation has provided over 1.7 million health resources and 1 million breast health and patient navigation services for women in need. Over 80 percent of the funds they receive are put back into their programs.

2. Breast Cancer Research Foundation

The Breast Cancer Research Foundation is the highest rated breast cancer organization in the United States. 300 researchers across 14 countries and 6 continents are currently being funded by BCRF. Their most recent discovery is a type of medicine that allows women to avoid chemotherapy and avoids unnecessary side effects, therefore, improving their quality of life.

3. Breast Cancer Action

Breast Cancer Action is an independent organization that denies any funding from companies that profit from or contribute to breast cancer. Breast Cancer Action realizes that 40,000 women die from breast cancer every year and are trying to find ways to prevent this. Founded by women who have been diagnosed with breast cancer, BCAction is an organization that is demanding answers about this terrible disease.

4. Living Beyond Breast Cancer

Living Beyond Breast Cancer was founded by an oncologist and a group of her patients who were looking for support after their treatment. The goal of LBBC is to create a safe space for patients to get accurate and easy to understand information about breast cancer and to meet and connect with others like them.

 

Fundraising around Madison

There are multiple ways to help support breast cancer foundations right in Madison. These three events are happening in October. The proceeds raised will go towards cancer research and the Susan G. Komen South Central Wisconsin Foundation.

 

1. "Wacoal Fit for the Cure"

When: October 13, 2018, from 10:00 am-4:00 pm

Where: Boston Store in West Towne Mall

What: Complimentary bra fittings

Wacoal will donate $2 to Susan G. Komen per participant. Wacoal will also donate $2 for every Wacoal bra or shapewear piece purchased.

 

2. "Reps for Racks"

When: October 14, 2018, from 6:00 pm-9:30 pm

Where: PFD CrossFit in Verona

What: Tickets are $35 per person

Includes a t-shirt, pizza and a drink when you finish. Workouts for all fitness levels. All proceeds will be donated to Susan G. Komen South Central Wisconsin

 

3. "Burgers for Boobs"

When: October 19, 2018, from 5:00 pm-10:00 pm

Where: various Milwaukee Burger Company locations

What: $5 from every burger sold will be donated to Susan G. Komen South Central Wisconsin

T-shirts on sale for $10. Staff will be donating their salaries and tips

 

Make sure to visit this website for more information about any of these events!

 

Breast cancer can be a scary topic, but it is an important one. Encourage your mothers, sisters, cousins and friends to go to their scheduled mammograms and to perform breast self-exams. If you feel a lump that hasn’t been there before, it’s always a good idea to get it checked out. Mammograms are essential, and although they may be uncomfortable and sometimes inconvenient, they can detect cancer early and may save your life.

 

 

Citations

https://www.nationalbreastcancer.org/breast-self-exam?gclid=EAIaIQobChMI_b-2_4X23QIV0MDACh3tNwvFEAAYASAAEgI82_D_BwE

https://www.cancer.org/cancer/breast-cancer/screening-tests-and-early-detection/mammograms/mammograms-what-to-know-before-you-go.html

https://www.nationalbreastcancer.org/

https://www.bcrf.org/

https://www.lbbc.org/

http://www.komensouthcentralwi.org/get-involved/komen-activities/special-events.html