As most of you may already know, October is Breast Cancer Awareness month. This month is significant to my life, because I’m a cancer survivor. And this year’s October, will mark sixteen years since I became cancer free. So, as I celebrate this milestone, I will continue to encourage cancer awareness with hopes that soon we can all #kisscancergoodbye.
Diagnosed when I was 17, I was constantly told to be brave as I fought for my life. I survived. But, even after beating the disease, I struggle with the thought that cancer can return. Women who had cancer before age 30 have a higher risk of getting breast cancer later in life. The thought of having to fight for my life again is frightening. But, I soon realized I had to make a choice. I could either wake-up every day scared, or wake-up grateful and practice preventative ways to remain cancer-free.
During Breast Cancer Awareness month, I will honor the pink ribbon and remind everyone, especially women about the importance of breast cancer awareness. Sadly, there isn’t an absolute way to prevent breast cancer. However, by conducting routine breast self-examinations there is a greater chance of detecting early stages of breast cancer. When cancer is detected early more treatments are available and the chance of survival is more likely.
Therefore, breast self-examinations are extremely important for everyone (men included). Here’s a brief overview of the steps for a proper breast self-examination, (recommended to be done once a month) according to the National Breast Cancer Organization.
1.Shower Check: While in the shower close all five fingers collectively and use them to perform circular motions around your both of your entire breasts to check for lumps. Raise your arms to check your armpit area as well.
2.Mirror Check: Stand in the mirror and examine your breast for any deformation or indentations. The organization also states, “rest your palms on your hips and press firmly to flex your chest muscles.” If everything seems normal, move on to step three. If you do notice any abnormalities take a note of it and contact your health provider.
3.Pillow Check: As a final step, lie down and place a pillow under either your left or right shoulder and arm. This allows your breast tissue to lay flat. With the opposite hand of the side that your pillow is on, close your fingers collectively and conduct circular motions around the entire breast and armpit (same motion done in the shower). Switch your pillow to the other side and repeat this exercise. Don’t be gentle use a little force in this examination. End the exam with a pinch to both nipples. After that pinch if you notice any discharge or lumps, please contact your health provider.
Don’t be intimidated by these examinations. A breast self-examination is a form of self–care, so make time for your health. I strongly suggest pairing these exams with mammograms, routine screenings and physical examinations by a doctor, as well. These methods will definitely catch any early signs of cancer.
I’m sure breast cancer awareness articles are in abundance this month. Many of them requesting that you to take a breast self-examination test. Which, I am elated about because many women need assistance with them. It doesn’t matter if you are a survivor, enduring cancer treatments or never affected by cancer- I’m asking everyone. I want you to know that a single breast self-examination has a trickling and powerful effect on ending cancer. That exam could possibly save a life and detect early stages of breast cancer.
The development of that treatment could save the life of someone else. Complete awareness and participation in preventing the spread of cancer by everyone, will ultimately result into a final kiss goodbye to cancer.I’m so thankful to be celebrating sixteen years of being cancer-free and I deeply want this same result for anyone battling cancer. Overcoming cancer showed me how strong I am and that I can do anything. That's why I'm so excited to be actively helping this fight throughout our partners Ellie Fund and National Breast Cancer Foundation. During this whole month, we are donating from every purchase made online to breast cancer screening, treatment, and patient support. So let's end this fight together!