I was contacted by two different charities both asking me if I could do a blog post about Breast Cancer Awareness Month because it's such an important thing to talk about and not shy away from and also because a lot of my readers are round my own age and a little bit younger, and a lot of us don't actually ever think of Breast Cancer or checking our boobs are anything like that at all.
There is an out-outstandingly beautiful and funny woman called Kris Hallenga who was diagnosed with stage four breast cancer at age 23. Like.. just read that sentence again for a moment and take that in.. she was 23 years old when she found out she had breast cancer. At 23 years old I was thinking about going out with friends drinking and my uni work, breast cancer would have never ever crossed my mind at all.
Kris felt something in her boob and went along to her doctor who shrugged it off, so Kris went travelling for eight months and when she got back home the lump was still there so she again went back to her doctor who shrugged it off again. But Kris persisted to go and in the end she was diagnosed with stage four breast cancer, which means that it cannot be cured.
Instead of dwelling on this, Kris then set up the amazingly incredible charity "CoppaFeel" to raise awareness of breast cancer and also to encourage women, no matter how old they are to check their boobies regularly.
Which is now what I want all of you to do - please check your boobies. If you're at home reading this then go up to your bedroom or bathroom and have a feel and get to know your boobs, if you're out, at school or at work then go to the bathroom and do so or set a reminder on your phone to do so when you get home. It's so important to get to know your own boobs, and don't do it just once and think "okay I've done it now" - Make it a weekly thing!
What is breast cancer?
- Breast cancer is the most common cancer in the UK.
- Breast cancer starts when cells in the breast begin to divide and grow in an abnormal way. It’s caused by a combination of lots of different factors, many of which are beyond our control.
- Breast cancer is not one single disease - there are several types of breast cancer. It can be diagnosed at different stages and can grow at different rates. This means that people can have different treatments, depending on what will work best for them.
Signs and Symptoms of Breast Cancer
- a change in size or shape of the breast
- a lump or thickening that feels different from the rest of the breast tissue
- redness or a rash on the skin and/or around the nipple
- a change in skin texture such as puckering or dimpling (like orange peel)
- discharge (liquid) that comes from the nipple without squeezing
- your nipple becoming inverted (pulled in) or changing its position or shape
- a swelling in your armpit or around your collarbone
- constant pain in your breast or your armpit
How do I check my breasts?
- There’s no right or wrong way to check your breasts for any changes. Try to get used to looking at and feeling your breasts regularly. You can do this in the bath or shower, when you use body lotion, or when you get dressed. There’s really no need to change your everyday routine. Just decide what you are comfortable with and what suits you best.
- Remember to check all parts of your breast, your armpits and up to your collarbone.
- Everyone’s breasts look and feel different.
- Some people have lumpy breasts, or one breast larger than the other, or breasts that are different shapes. Some have one or both nipples pulled in (inverted), which can be there from birth or happen when the breasts are developing.
- When you check your breasts, try to be aware of any changes that are different for you.
What should I do if I find a change?
- Most breast changes are likely to be normal or due to a benign (not cancer) breast condition rather than being a sign of breast cancer. If you notice a change, go and see your GP (local doctor) as soon as you can.
- If you don’t feel comfortable going to see a male GP you can ask if there is a female doctor available. When your GP examines your breasts they may feel that there is no need for further investigation, or they may refer you to a breast clinic.
- For more information about what happens at a breast clinic and the tests you may have, read what happens when you are referred to a breast clinic or download our Your breast clinic appointment booklet.
- Some people think that if they have breast cancer they will have other symptoms alongside a breast change, such as feeling tired, having less energy or weight loss, but this is not the case. If you do notice a change it’s important to visit your GP.
I'm asking you who's now reading this to please, please share this blog post as much as possible or if not this post, find a website or video online and share it as much as you can think month to raise awareness! It really could save someone's life.
With love, Alisha Valerie. x