You try your best to make your bi-annual dentist appointments and your annual doctor exam, but do you do your best to check your breasts regularly for lumps? It could save your life.
Don’t think you’re invincible because you can get breast cancer at a young age, like Alexandria Whitaker, who recently found a cancerous lump in her breast at age 24 thanks to a sticky bra. The nurse and OB-GYN who told her it was probably nothing to worry about upgraded their terminology to a “mass” at the time of the precautionary mammogram. Still, it could have been nothing — so Alexandria got a biopsy, which told her she had breast cancer.
Alexandra had every reason to think the lump was benign since she had no family history of breast cancer. She also did her duty and had an annual breast exam in October 2017. Her lump seemed to form overnight, as did the whirlwind of getting diagnosed with breast cancer.
Within a week, she worked with a series of doctors on a treatment plan. Alexandra’s currently on her third round of chemotherapy and has lost her hair. She sports a cute wig and keeps up a good sense of humor as she watches her family fit into her room “like clowns in a car.” Along with her goal to keep up the positivity, Alexandra has a mission to raise breast cancer awareness among young women and talks about her experience at Whitty’s Titty Committee.
It’s Time to Check Your Tatas Now
In honor of Alexandria and other women dealing with breast cancer, check your tatas right now. Higher odds for treatment and survival exist with early cancer detection. Besides, you get to know your body better when you conduct self-exams and feel more likely to sense when something seems different.
Remember that self-examinations shouldn’t replace a mammogram or diagnosis by a doctor, but conducting them matters. Here’s what to do:
- Mirror Observation
Observe your breasts in the mirror. Place your arms by your sides. Raise your arms, looking closely again. Then, notice if there are changes in your nipples, like strange fluid coming out (different than breastfeeding). You may also notice puckering, dimpling or redness.
- Feel Breasts Lying Down
Lie down on your bed, and use the hand opposite your breast to examine the tissue. Use two fingertips to press firmly in small circular motions. Move along from your armpits to your nipple, and include the space between your breasts before you examine the other in the same way. Also, check vertically — from collarbone to under the breasts.
- Check Breasts Standing Up
Using the same methods as above, check your breasts while standing. The easiest way to do this is while in the shower, making it a part of a routine check.
Perform your exam at the same time each month, so you remember to do it more easily and routinely. Your breasts also change throughout your cycle, and you may not know if that sensitivity or lumpiness is due to your period or a potential mass related to breast cancer. Some experts recommend doing your regular self-exam three to five days after your period for this reason. See your doctor if you notice a difference that persists beyond a full cycle.
Remember, no one is immune from breast cancer, and Alexandra’s experience shows this. Alexandria still has hope for treatment, but many women have had to undergo mastectomy as a result of their breast cancer. And we don’t want to scare you — even if you catch it late, there are still options, such as implants or breast reconstruction surgery. Breast reconstruction surgery often uses the patient’s own tissue, while breast implants last about 10-20 years and eventually need replacement. Sometimes, a portion of the original breast can also be saved.
Those considering reconstruction typically investigate these options as their cancer advances. However, it is always always always better to catch it early! So, no matter how old you are, it’s imperative to check those tatas and take your health into your own hands. Try doing a self-breast exam right now!