As women, life takes us by storm. Yes, all people have their personal issues to adhere to. Women in particular though, have a lot on their plate, especially when it comes to their bodies. We get our menstrual cycles, give birth, breastfeed, deal with post-baby bodies, hormonal changes, menopause, and countless other bodily matters. We deal with all of these functions, but most of the time, we don’t regularly check up on our bodies.
An important part of checking-in on our bodies is checking-in on our breasts. CHECK YOUR BREASTS. There is a certain unspoken stigma around talking about breasts in many traditionally conservative cultures, and this leads to the neglect of women ensuring that their breasts are healthy. Actions start with conversation, and many societies do not address the importance of regularly scheduled breast exams. As a matter of fact, one in every three women worldwide do not clinically check on their breasts.
A study found that 14.8% of women who went into a mammogram (an X-Ray for breasts) left with a breast cancer diagnosis. A regularly-scheduled mammogram, uncomfortable though it may be, is the main reason behind early breast cancer detection for 87% of women; it’s an important, life-saving procedure. Many of those diagnosed through a mammogram are diagnosed at an early stage, which is life-saving. This cannot be stressed enough: a regular mammogram to make sure there’s nothing wrong with your breasts can save you from more difficult cancer treatments.
There are things that one can do at home as well. Checking for lumps and knowing the symptoms of breast cancer are vital. According to cancer.org, some symptoms to look out for are as follows: swelling, reddening, and thickening of the breast. Thickening, and reddening of the nipple itself is also a red flag. Pain anywhere can be a sign, as well as skin irritation and scaliness. Also, if the nipple turns inward, that can be a symptom that something isn’t quite right. These, of course, are just a few of the symptoms mentioned. There is more to know on the website mentioned above, and knowledge is the first frontier in ensuring that one is taking care of their health. 39 percent of breast cancer cases in the United States between 1980 and 2003 were detected by self-examination, so checking your breasts for abnormalities yourself is a powerful tool in your arsenal against breast cancer.
Preceding detection and visits to your doctor, there are countless ways to keep your breasts healthy on an on-going basis. Exercising is important, as is eating fruits and vegetables. Avoiding unhealthy food and watching your weight is also paramount to healthy breasts, as is not spending too much time sitting. Limiting hormone replacement therapy is also important. Maintaining a happy, healthy lifestyle in general is best for your breasts; overall healthiness, all-around, is the best option always. Along with the above, checking-in with your local doctor from time-to-time is always a good idea; don’t wait for matters as important as your health, because by then, it may be too late.
October is Breast Cancer Awareness month. So this October, take some time for yourself, shake off the societal stigma of breast-health, and check in on your mammaries! Inform your families and friends about the importance of breast cancer. Wear pink proudly; be an active part of the conversation to put us all on the path to healthier lives.
To donate to Breast Cancer Awareness and Research:
- Canadian Cancer Society
- National Breast Cancer Foundation
- Breast Cancer Foundation Partners
- Dr. Susan Love Research Foundation
- Lynn Sage Cancer Research Foundation
For more information, please visit cancer.org