If you read that title and you sang it in Fergie's voice, you are a Millennial. October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and I wanted to talk about why it is imperative to check yourself each month for lumps.
"But Tori, I'm only (insert age here) and do not have to worry about Breast Cancer."
Lies! Breast cancer may be more prevalent as you get older, but that doesn't decrease your chances. Also, if you start checking when you are young, and know what to look for if you do encounter a lump you can catch it early and potentially save your own life.
Weirded out about touching yourself? Okay, I get that, but this is something easy, and simple, and FREE that can save your life. So do it. NO ifs, ands, or buts!
I have been doing a self-breast exam since my early twenties, and proud of how proactive I have been. For a lot of women, we lose focus of our healthcare, especially our reproductive health care because we have a thousand excuses and other things we have to do, and I get it... but this is important. Make sure you do your annual exam with your gynecologist, do self-breast checks, know the warning signs of cervical cancer and uterine cancer. These are all silent killers and often when caught, it's too late. Why risk your life?
On to what a self-breast exam is. Breastcancer.org has a brilliant write-up of what a self-exam should like and photos. Click here to access it.
So how do you make sure to keep this routine up? Well, just that -- make it a routine. I live and eat by my calendar, and this is just one more thing I can add to it. My period is usually at the end of the month, so scheduling it on the 5th of each month would be in the time frame they suggest to do the exam. Also, starting a journal may be a helpful idea. Recording your findings will help you keep track of things if something should change, or if you have a question or feel something is off, you have proof to take to the doctors of what has been going on so they can better understand what is going on. Not a journal person, put a note in your calendar instead, so you have something you can go back to compare notes if needed.
So you've done the exam, and you found something suspicious, what next? Do not worry --- often we can think of the worst but that won't help the situation. Call your gynecologist and say that you think you found a lump while doing an exam. They will get you in and take a look. You may also be asked to get a mammogram which, I know, is kind of scary, but also another great preventive measure to ensure there is nothing wrong. If you feel nervous or scared, let your doctor know that, and ask for additional literature to read up on so you can be prepared for your appointment.
I've added a few links here that will be helpful as well. Check them out to learn more, because educating yourself is the first big step to ensuring that you are healthy and live a long life.
Be selfish with your self-care,
Breast Cancer and Things You Should Know