In the United States for every 8 women, 1 will be diagnosed with breast cancer.
This statistic is very alarming. Being a woman and having daughters pushes me to bring more awareness to this and to encourage the females in my life to ensure they are checking themselves regularly for anything abnormal.
I discovered a lump in my underarm almost a year ago. I was referred to woman’s imaging twice and I even requested to see a specialist because I still felt unsure.
Long story short, they have come to a recent conclusion that it’s a benign lymph node. I will continue to monitor it and am doing what I believe I need to do. I am still very hopeful that it will resolve on it’s on.
But in the meantime I feel a very strong obligation to share this and to encourage women to be checking themselves. Having this lump has led me to lots of googling, believe me. But when I go through something I try to ask myself, “what is this teaching me and how can I apply this to my life?” It’s all been a life lesson.
Hence, why I am writing this blog.
Maybe some female (friend or stranger) will read this and just her reading this saved her life! I mean, who knows! But if anything I just want encourage you, my friends, to take care of yourselves as best you can.
I know cancer is not something we want to believe that can happen to us but the truth is, it can. If not you, possibly someone you love dearly. And with a 1 in 8 statistic we should be even more proactive with this, as well as, providing more awareness to the women in our lives to check themselves.
I am not a health expert. But here are the answers that I can provide to you with my experience.
When to check your breasts?
At least once a month. Best time to check for any abnormalities is right after your period, this is what a breast specialist told me. What may help is setting a monthly reminder in your phone to prevent you from forgetting.
How to self exam your breasts?
Lay down on your back and lift one arm reaching far above your head. Use your opposite hand and begin pressing 4 fingers all around your breast, armpit, and collarbone. Repeat on the other side.
You’re feeling for any lumps (some women have natural lumpy breast tissue which is why it is good to become familiar with the way your breasts feel) you’re also checking for any discharge from your nipples.
Note: if anything AT ALL seems unfamiliar it’s best to just let your doctor know.
I feel a lump, now what?
First of all, don’t panic. Lumps do not always indicate cancer. They can be cysts or even a benign lymph node if located in the underarm. And given time they may go away on their own.
Either way I encourage you to call your doctor right away and to schedule an appointment to have it further check out.
My doctor referred me to have an ultra sound, what does that mean?
Most of the time it means they really aren’t sure what the lump is. And lumps in the breast is also not something they mess around with. So they refer you to have it checked out on a different level. I personably feel it’s better to be referred somewhere then to just be dismissed and told “it feels normal”.
Don’t panic once again if your doctor is referring you. I know this can be scary, trust me. But if it is something that is concerning you want it caught as soon as possible.
If you still aren’t satisfied, ask to be referred to a breast specialist.
All I’m going to say is, your peace of mind is worth it. Just trust your intuition and I encourage you have a health advocate if you’re uncomfortable being your own.
A breast specialist will check your breasts, will feel the lump, will ask if you’re experiencing any pain, ask if the lump has grown, and she may or may not have you come back in a few more months.
And if the breast specialist doesn’t suggest you come back and the lump is still present over time, I would definitely have it checked out again. Don’t just dismiss it because the doctor says it doesn’t appear abnormal. If it’s abnormal for YOU, stay on top of it.
When it comes to your health become comfortable being uncomfortable.
Don’t be embarrassed or uncomfortable with your questions, or requesting a second opinion or additional follow ups, or bringing it up to family or friends, etc. Having peace of mind is always worth it even when it feels like a lot.
I know this kind of stuff isn’t fun to discuss believe me. It’s scary and terrifying but we are all in this together.