October is Breast Cancer Awareness month and with one in eight women being diagnosed before they reach the age of eighty six, it is something we just cannot ignore. The Organic Place is a workplace that employs many women and the communities to whom we deliver our products includes women from various backgrounds, careers and walks of life. We know that many of these women lead busy lives and take on several roles, as: bosses, employees, partners, mothers, daughters, sisters and friends. As a business in the health and wellness industry, we feel it is important for us to remind these busy women to take the time to care for themselves and make their health a priority. Are you breast aware? When was the last time you checked your breasts?
Fifty women are diagnosed with breast cancer every day. Breast cancer is the most common cancer among women and is second only to lung cancer when it comes to fatalities. Breast cancer also affects a small percentage of men as well. We all know someone who has been touched by this awful disease. There are many ways in which we can educate ourselves and others on breast cancer, and hopefully improve outcomes for sufferers everywhere.
Be Breast Aware
We must be breast aware and encourage the women in our lives to understand the warning signs, check themselves regularly, and seek help from medical practitioners. To start with, it is vital that every woman is familiar with her own breasts. Each and every woman is unique and her breasts are no different. We can all attest that our bodies undergo plenty of changes from youth to adulthood. Whether it is: losing or gaining weight, pregnancy, breastfeeding, menopause or ageing; these all have an effect on the shape and appearance of our breasts. Some women’s breasts are also just naturally lumpier than others. Consequently, the best person to check your breasts on a regular basis is you.
Signs and Symptoms
There are many signs and symptoms which could lead to a breast cancer diagnosis but they equally may be related to something else entirely. Things to look for include:
- redness, dimpling or other changes to the skin of the breast
- a new lump or lumpiness, especially if in only one breast
- changes in the shape or size of your breast
- changes to the nipple in the form of crusting, ulcers, redness or inversion
- discharge from nipples that occurs without squeezing
- a strange persistent pain
See your doctor if you experience one or more of these and find a second opinion if you still feel something is not right.
How to check your breasts
As well as visually checking your breasts, you should also check with your hands, to feel for lumps. There is no one, prefect way to do this. The main thing is that you check them at all. Whether you do it in the shower or bath, lying on the bed, or when applying body lotion, choose a method with which you are comfortable. You could do it in many different ways but here is one way if you want specific instructions:
- Put one hand above your head
- Use the two fingers from your other hand to press lightly and then firmly on your skin starting under your armpit and moving down to the bottom of your rib cage in a line
- Repeat this process until you have covered all of the area from the collarbone down to underneath the breast and across to the sternum
- When you go past the nipple, press firmly on it to check for lumps
- Once you have checked one side of your chest, lift the other arm and begin the process again to check the other side using the opposite hand
How else can we be proactive?
While women the ages of 50 and above are invited each year to take advantage of a free mammogram, this service is in fact free for women from 40 years old and up. If you are younger than forty and wish to have a mammogram, please see your health professional to organise one.
Live a healthy lifestyle
There are no guarantees when it comes to breast cancer. We know that it can be hereditary and we also may know of people who seem to lead healthy, active lives and yet have still been diagnosed. Breast cancer does not discriminate. The research does not indicate that there are any guaranteed ways to prevent breast cancer. However, lowering your alcohol consumption and maintaining a healthy weight may lessen your chances of it developing. Thus, eating a healthy diet and remaining active is a sensible lifestyle choice to hopefully prevent breast cancer as well as other diseases.
Donate your funds
Another way you can spread breast cancer awareness is by making a donation. Every dollar donated to breast cancer research leads us close to a cure. Whether you donate through local businesses or directly online, there are many events which raise funds over the course of the year for breast cancer such as the Mother’s Day Classic walk, amongst others.
Host or attend a fundraiser
If you want to take your donation up a notch, why not host a fundraiser yourself and encourage others to donate? You may also want to attend someone else’s fundraiser such as the Pink Ribbon Gala, which you can follow on Instagram.
Start a conversation
Lastly, and perhaps the most effective and simplest way we can affect change is by chatting with others. By sharing articles such as this one, beginning a conversation about our stories and reminding each other to check ourselves, we can move mountains. Don’t underestimate how one voice can make a difference.
On that note, before you finish reading, don’t forget to pop a weekly alarm in your phone to remind you to check your breasts! And, spread the word!
Bartel, K. for Pink Hope (17/9/14). How to check your breasts for lumps. Retrieved from https://pinkhope.org.au/how-to-check-your-breasts-for-lumps/
Breast Cancer Awareness Network (2018). Breast Awareness. Retrieved from https://www.bcna.org.au/breast-health-awareness/breast-awareness/
Breast Cancer.Org (2018). Breast Self Exam. Retrieved from https://www.breastcancer.org/symptoms/testing/types/self_exam
Cancer Council Girls Night In (2018). Breast Cancer. Retrieved from https://www.girlsnightin.com.au/womens-cancers/types/breast-cancer/