Most of my recent posts have been about my boobs… time to focus on YOUR boobs. Mine are just fine, in case you were wondering though. I’m still happy with the results of reconstruction and continue to get Herceptin treatments every 3 weeks – a HER2 targeted therapy to help prevent recurrence – as well as daily Tamoxifen pills and a monthly Lupron injection – hormone therapies to keep my estrogen levels as low as possible. Anyway, I said this post wasn’t going to be about me. Back to your boobs….
1 in 8 women in the U.S. will be diagnosed with invasive breast cancer and 40% of diagnosed breast cancers are detected by women who feel a lump. And while it is much less common, men can also develop breast cancer – so I’m talking to you too fellas! The good news it that survival rates for breast cancer have increased over the past few decades as a result of finding breast cancer earlier through screening and increased awareness, as well as better treatments. So here are some helpful hints of things you can do for yourself and others for early detection:
1) Touch your boobs
I feel like you saw that one coming… but for real, you should make self-exams a monthly habit. Set a reminder on your phone or incorporate it into another monthly routine you already have like grocery shopping… does anyone else hate the grocery store as much as I do? Ok, maybe something more like changing your Brita filter or whatever. Either way, make it a habit. Here’s a simple explanation of how to do a self-exam:
-Use the pads of your fingers – not the tips or the palm – basically the part of your fingers you use to snap
-Gently move your fingers in small circles all the way around your breast starting at the armpit all the way to the nipple
-Look for changes on the skin, feel for lumps and check for any discharge or pain
-Check both laying down and standing up
2) Badger your friends and family
Listen… we don’t live in the days of mail carrier pigeons. You can eeeaaasily send a text or an email or a million other things I don’t even know about to your friends and family to badger them like I badger you. Just e-yell “TOUCH YOUR BOOBS” at some people you care about every now and again. As awkward as it sounds, you could help save someone’s life.
3) Be your own advocate
If you think you notice something that’s concerning, ask your doctor. Don’t be afraid to advocate for yourself. My doctor said I could schedule a mammogram if I want. I had to take the initiative but almost didn’t because it was “probably just a cyst” and they’d think I was crazy. I wasn’t. And you aren’t either. You know your body best, especially if you touch your boobs regularly.
4) Talk about or schedule a mammogram
Talk to your doctor about your family history and risk factors – this will determine the age at which you should start getting mammograms (if you haven’t already). While they don’t feel the same as say, a Swedish massage, the small amount of discomfort can provide a crap ton of reassurance and potentially early detection.
So that covers early detection. I mentioned the other thing that has improved survival rates is better treatments for patients. Here’s my plug to support the Touch Your Boobs Jimmy Fund Walk team! It’s thanks to Dana Farber’s incredible research, treatments and care that I can walk this year as a cancer survivor
. The best way I know how to show my gratitude is helping to raise funds and awareness. I set an ambitious goal of raising $7,500 and many of you have already contributed – THANK YOU! To continue supporting Dana Farber and their quest to kick cancer’s ass (I think that’s their official mission statement), please consider donating by clicking here
, checking with your company to see if they match contributions and by spreading the word. I appreciate you all so much for all the ways you’ve shown support. You really are the breast… I mean best.