My kids say that all the time. I usually tell them that life has a way of balancing out. Even though things may not be going your way right now, they probably will tomorrow or the day after that.
But, my college roommate had both of her breasts and five lymph nodes removed last week. She is 36, an incredible competitive mountain biker, and she just fell in love. I just have a hard time figuring out how the universe can balance this one out. I think that cancer is the exception to my everything evening out philosophy.
That is why I am reminding everyone to do a Self Breast Exam. Today. Right Now! The thing about cancer is that if detected early enough there are treatments that are very effective. And I know that the current recommendation for a pap smear is every three years, go get one anyway. I am on a once a year plan ever since another friend of mine died last year after her cervical cancer spread to her diaphragm, chest and neck. She was only 38.
American Cancer Society How to Perform a Breast Self-Exam
|Beginning in their 20s, women should be told about the benefits and limitations of breast self-exam (BSE). Women should know how their breasts normally look and feel and report any new breast changes to a health professional as soon as they are found. Finding a breast change does not necessarily mean there is a cancer.
A woman can notice changes by being aware of how her breasts normally look and feel and by feeling her breasts for changes (breast awareness), or by choosing to use a step-by-step approach (see below) and using a specific schedule to examine her breasts.
If you choose to do BSE, the information below is a step-by-step approach for the exam. The best time for a woman to examine her breasts is when the breasts are not tender or swollen. Women who examine their breasts should have their technique reviewed during their periodic health exams by their health care professional.
Women with breast implants can do BSE, too. It may be helpful to have the surgeon help identify the edges of the implant so that you know what you are feeling. There is some thought that the implants push out the breast tissue and may actually make it easier to examine. Women who are pregnant or breast-feeding can also choose to examine their breasts regularly.
It is acceptable for women to choose not to do BSE or to do BSE once in a while. Women who choose not to do BSE should still be aware of the normal look and feel of their breasts and report any changes to their doctor right away.
How to examine your breasts
- Use 3 different levels of pressure to feel all the breast tissue. Light pressure is needed to feel the tissue closest to the skin; medium pressure to feel a little deeper; and firm pressure to feel the tissue closest to the chest and ribs. It is normal to feel a firm ridge in the lower curve of each breast, but you should tell your doctor if you feel anything else out of the ordinary. If you’re not sure how hard to press, talk with your doctor or nurse. Use each pressure level to feel the breast tissue before moving on to the next spot.
- Move around the breast in an up and down pattern starting at an imaginary line drawn straight down your side from the underarm and moving across the breast to the middle of the chest bone (sternum or breastbone). Be sure to check the entire breast area going down until you feel only ribs and up to the neck or collar bone (clavicle)
- There is some evidence to suggest that the up-and-down pattern (sometimes called the vertical pattern) is the most effective pattern for covering the entire breast, without missing any breast tissue.
- Repeat the exam on your left breast, putting your left arm behind your head and using the finger pads of your right hand to do the exam.
- While standing in front of a mirror with your hands pressing firmly down on your hips, look at your breasts for any changes of size, shape, contour, or dimpling, or redness or scaliness of the nipple or breast skin. (The pressing down on the hips position contracts the chest wall muscles and enhances any breast changes.)
- Examine each underarm while sitting up or standing and with your arm only slightly raised so you can easily feel in this area. Raising your arm straight up tightens the tissue in this area and makes it harder to examine.
This procedure for doing breast self exam is different from previous recommendations. These changes represent an extensive review of the medical literature and input from an expert advisory group. There is evidence that this position (lying down), the area felt, pattern of coverage of the breast, and use of different amounts of pressure increase a woman’s ability to find abnormal areas.