Should I check myself for breast cancer?
When you’re young you’re healthy right? Health is something we start to notice in our 40s? 50s? Too many believe this and I’m here to say regardless your age you need to stay on top of your health! Being young, active & on a good diet doesn’t mean that you are excluded from serious illness possibilities that are out of your control. (Although proper diet & exercise do decrease your risk for many serious illnesses.) Take the time to learn your body!
Did you know that 1 in 8 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime? Each year it is estimated that over 220,000 women in the United States will be diagnosed with breast cancer. Lets put that into perspective. In the United States there are 3,144 counties. Statistically speaking that means that in your county (wherever you are) there are 69 women who will be diagnosed with breast cancer this year. Thats a big eye opener!
Because we cant prevent things like breast cancer, its important to be on top of what we can control - Early detection! Learning your body is key in detecting anything abnormal & regularly checking for these things is key! Also finding an OBGYN to have yearly checkups is very important! Thats not just a doctor you see when you are pregnant (common misconception) Pap smears and routine check ups are very important in maintaining good health and early detection along with regular at home self exams! They are very important and easy to do!
A few key things to look for are:
- Pulled in nipple
- Skin changes
Here is a diagram showing several ways you should feel for abnormalities. It doesn’t take long to do! You can do this as you wait 3 minutes on your conditioner in the shower! (By the way no one waits 3 minutes so your hair may even shine brighter lol!!)
It is important to let your doctor know if you have implants so they can take proper procedure with a checkup. Many doctors many opt for an ultrasound over a mammogram (not in all cases), but regardless of an implant or not, both will detect an abnormal mass. Having an implant placed under the muscle is more likely to push tissue within easier reach as opposed to placed above the muscle. This may make finding a lump easier. Be aware of how your “normal” breast feels with your implant so you can be aware of any changes as time goes on. This is definitely something to discuss further with your plastic surgeon & OBGYN for additional information & precautions. I do these things, take all the precautions and 3 weeks ago I found a lump in one of my breasts. I was terrified. I tried to write it off as several things it could be so my anxiety didn’t get the best of me, but it was constantly in the back of my mind as the risk of cancer always is.
When I was 14 I lost my mom to a very aggressive form of breast cancer. I know 1st hand how quickly things can change & it’s a very scary feeling. After 2 weeks off no changes I decided to go to my doctor. He confirmed that there was a mass and that I needed further testing…ugh! I was hoping for a “thats a totally normal lump!” Wishful thinking eh. I was scared. I had to wait a week for a breast imaging appt and time dragged by. My appt finally came and went & THANK GOD my sonogram showed no abnormalities. This indicated that the mass was healthy tissue and was not “abnormal”. They said that breast tissue can often lump like that and that its nothing to worry over. Hormones, timing of the month etc play a big role in those things. HOWEVER - you should ALWAYS get checked! Never assume its nothing. Even though this proved to be nothing serious, I still have a follow ups scheduled for it and I always stay up to date on my checkups!
Taking care of yourself should ALWAYS be your #1 priority! Sometimes its scary, but you have to do it. If you are young & healthy, don’t assume you don’t have to do these things. Take care of yourself now! Also there is now a blood test that can detect genetic cancer within your body. It's called the BRCA mutation test. It will detect if you carry this gene which puts you at a much higher risk of developing cancer. If you detected positive you can stay on top of much more frequent and thorough checkups at your doctor. You can also take such measures as a precautionary internal mastectomy to eliminate a high risk if needed. If you test negative it doesn't mean that you cant develop cancer, it just means that you are in the average 1-8 women range. And please keep in mind that although breast cancer is common in women, men can develop breast cancer as well! It is more rare but it does happen. So any men reading this - same applies!
Last October I shared, via social media, the importance of self exams and checkups. A young girl messaged me a couple weeks later and said that she went to the doctor because of my post and they ended up finding the very beginning stages of cervical cancer! She was so thankful for the post because otherwise it would have gone undetected. So I wanted to share this as well just to put that bug in your ear. Take care of yourself ladies!
Empowering women through the power of health, fitness, and a positive mindset.