Thursday, 6 June 2013

Ah… My Breasts!

A central piece to the definition of a woman deemed attractive, it is a source of pleasure for the admirer and the admired, and is the portal of nourishment of succeeding generations.  Breasts... everyone has a vested interest. 

A few years ago I watch as a family member suffered in silence as she underwent a mastectomy. She was a healthy woman who one day became aware of a pain in her breast. Upon investigation by more than one physician, she was eventually diagnosed with a cancerous tumour in her breast and had to have an emergency surgery during that Christmas season just shy of the 3 or 4 weeks she was diagnosed. It was as traumatic for her as it was for the rest of the family.  One day she was healthy, and the next, she had to be processing dummy breasts, redefined social activities, chemotherapy… funeral arrangements? How would she cope with the loss of this critical symbol of her womanhood?

For a whole year she became a recluse in order to hide her “shame.” She lost her balance, her poise, and her self-confidence. But she had a resilient spirit, and along with the prayers and support of family and close friends she overcame. Eventually she got a silicone replacement and is now a cancer survivor of 8 years.
Many women suffer in silence; fearing what life may be like after cancer. There is often a fear of losing shape or beauty. “If I lose a breast, will I lose my husband too?” “If he stays will he still find me attractive?” We dread being considered different or deformed.

The good news is that the discovery of breast cancer isn’t always IT. There will be the occasional loss of the breasts if we are diagnosed with an aggressive form.  Mostly however, a doc can go in and out without you sustaining any major damage.  

According to the Jamaica Cancer Society, in 2008, there were 316 deaths as a result of breast cancer. Breast Cancer Awareness Month brings attention to the need for women to get themselves checked.  Consider it as giving yourself a little extra love.  In a real way we all need that.  With early detection you may be able to shop around for the best treatment options, make the necessary lifestyle changes, and have a better quality of life. Being proactive is the best approach for getting the best out of life.

General Tips

Did you ever hear that you should not eat too much fat or sugar? Well, according to Dr. Neal Bernard, president of the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) and president of the Cancer Project, cancer cells love meat fats, oils, and processed foods that have excessive quantities of hidden sugar. Eliminate these killers from your diet and incorporate more natural foods and exercise. Laugh more and reduce your stress levels.  Surround yourself positive thinking people.  And above all, trust in God as you take care of this precious temple He has given to you.

Did you know?
·         Every 13 minutes another woman dies from breast cancer.
·         It is the leading cause of death among women aged 15 to74.
·         96% of women who are diagnosed and treated early will be cancer free within 5 years.
·         80% of lumps found in your breasts are not cancerous, they are benign tumours.
·         70 – 80% of breast cancer occurs in women who have no family history of the disease.
·         You are never too young to develop breast cancer.

Breast Self-Exam
Wet, soapy hands makes examining your breasts easier because fingers will slide easily over your skin and you will be able feel what's beneath the surface.
·         Use your right hand to examine your left breast, and your left hand to examine your right breast.
·         Holding your fingers flat, move the pads of the fingers gently over every part of each breast. Move fingers in small circles in an up-and-down pattern over the breast.
·         Check for any lump, hard knot, or thickening. Carefully observe any changes in your breast.

Facts to note About Breast Self-Exams
  • Timing is important. Breasts are best examined seven to ten days after your period when the tissue becomes soft.
  • Size matters. It should take a C-cup woman twice as long to examine her breasts as it does an A-cup woman.
  • Comparison is key. Did you find a modular mass in one breast? If it’s the same grainy texture in a similar area in the other breast, it could be your normal tissue.
  • You shouldn't squeeze your nipples. Doctors now know that discharge is a perfectly normal response to nipple massage.
  • Breast tissue extends up into the armpits, around the side and toward the collarbone, so don't neglect those areas.
I pledge allegiance to my girls, to my boobs, to my titties, to my tatas, to my breasts and their normal state of being and to tell my doctor about any changes, I see or feel immediately, with detail and care for all. (Adapted from the Yoplait and the Jamaica Cancer Society pledge to lower the risk of breast cancer)

 By Michaela T. Cameron