September has ended and October has started. I don’t want to get into a thousand reasons why I love this month at the moment, but I do want to acknowledge that October is breast cancer awareness month. It just seems a little more important. I consider myself to be extremely lucky and grateful to have never been directly affected by breast cancer but I have had loved ones and friends who have. I have seen what it does and how devastating it is.
Unfortunately, there is nothing that can 100% prevent you from developing breast cancer, but there are ways you can help stop breast cancer from being the 2nd cause of death from cancer in Canada by detecting it early.
You can regularly check yourself at home. Look at your breasts in the mirror and really notice them. The more acquainted you are with the appearance of your breasts, the more likely it will be to notice any changes in them. Along with noticing their appearance, feel your breasts while lying down. Use your fingers and go in circular motions covering the entire breast area, including the armpit. If you notice any unusual lumps, talk to your doctor. Just keep in mind, a lump doesn’t mean cancer, but it should still be checked.
A breast cancer survivor posted a picture on Facebook of what breast cancer can look like. It went viral for good reason and even nurses and doctors have been sharing it. It emphasizes the importance of appearance and when to take notice that something may be wrong.
If you’re over 40, you should be having annual mammograms by now and doing regular checks on yourself at home.
If you are younger and have a history of breast cancer in your family (mother or grandmother has had breast cancer), talk to your doctor about scheduling your mammograms earlier.
Although it isn’t common, men should be checking themselves too. Remind your husbands and son’s to take notice of the appearance and to perform physical checks as well. Early detection can save his life.
Adopting a healthy lifestyle is also recommended to help reduce your risk of breast cancer. Regular exercise, eating whole foods such as fruits, vegetables, legumes,nuts, seeds, and whole grains, maintaining a healthy body weight, avoiding or limiting alcohol consumption and not smoking.
Breast cancer is the most common cancer among Canadian women (excluding non-melanoma skin cancers). It is the 2nd leading cause of death from cancer in Canadian women. Breast cancer can also occur in men, but it is not common.
This video by Serena Williams is also a great reminder to “touch yourself” for early detection.
I am not a medical professional so no advice from me will ever substitute the advice that comes from your doctor. Be sure to stay on top your annual check ups and don’t be afraid to ask questions and NEVER be embarrassed to bring something up that doesn’t look or feel right. It could save your life!
Stay healthy readers xo
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