Would you go months without checking on your girl Jennifer or years without having lunch with Erica to catch up on the latest tea? There’s just no way you would!
Two of your “friends” have been with you since puberty and they deserve the same time, love, and attention you give to your BFFs – your breasts! Here are 5 ways you can start being a better “breast” friend:
1. Get to Know Your Girls!
You simply can’t be friends with someone you don’t know! Getting to know your breasts is one of your strongest weapons against breast cancer! The self -breast exam (SBE) is the best way to ensure that you are consistently putting in the time to get to know your girls.
Your SBE should be done about 7 to 10 days after your period, when your breasts are less tender and lumpy. If you are in menopause, your SBE should be done on the same day of every month.
Here are the steps having an SBE that will get you and your breasts on the right track to a healthy relationship:
Step 1: Look at your breasts in the mirror
You can’t get to know your girls without looking at them! Stand in front of the mirror, without a bra or shirt, place your hands on your hips, and look at your breast. A good time to do this is right before you get in the shower. Look at:
The shape, size and color of your breast – Are they the same size? Is the left slightly bigger than the right? Does the color and shape look the same when comparing one side to the other?
Abnormal appearance- Is there dimpling, swelling, redness, scaliness, itchiness of the skin? Has the nipple turned inward instead of sticking out?
Step 2: Raise your hands above your head and take a look.
It’s important to see your breasts from a different position because it may bring something to your attention that you couldn’t see in Step 1. Look for everything that you did in Step 1.
Step 3: Check your nipples discharge.
Unless you are breastfeeding, it is not normal for your nipples to have anything leaking from them. Look at your nipples to see if there is any discharge in the form of blood, milky, yellow or watery fluid. You can also apply gentle pressure to the nipples to see if there is discharge.
Step 4: Feel your breast while standing or sitting.
Once you’ve finished looking, it’s time to check your breasts for lumps. Many women feel it’s easier to do this step when their skin is wet. So, this is a good time to step in the shower.
Use your left hand to check your right breast and your right hand to check the left breast. Holding three fingers close together (ring, middle, and index), firmly touch your breast using a circular motion. You can start anywhere you like just as long as you cover the entire breast and into the armpit.
Step 5: Feel your breasts while lying down.
Doing this step is important because it rearranges the breast tissue and allows you to feel areas of the breast that you couldn’t feel while standing or sitting. Some women like to do this step after they get out of the shower while applying lotion or moisturizer. Place a pillow under your upper back/shoulder of the side you are checking. Use the same techniques you did in Step 4.
2. Schedule A Date For Your Girls!
You’re probably picturing yourself in that little black dress that makes the girls look great! I’m not talking about that kind of date though. It’s important for you to schedule an annual physical for good breast health.
At your annual physical, your doctor will perform a clinical breast exam. During this exam, your doctor will check for all the things you check for during the self-breast exam. Your doctor will document the findings from the exam and will be able to compare this exam with the next one. It’s always good to have a professionally trained set of eyes and hands when it comes to your breast health.
3. Do A Photo Shoot!
Taking pictures with your friends is a great way to bond and create memories. Getting an annual mammogram creates a stronger sense of awareness about the health of your breasts.
According to the American Cancer Society, you can start getting mammograms at the age of 40 if you choose to do so. Between the ages of 45 – 54, you should get a mammogram every year.
At 55 and older, you can choose to get mammograms every 2 years. If you do feel a lump, your doctor may order a diagnostic mammogram, regardless of your age. Your doctor may also recommend mammograms if you have genes that make you more likely to develop breast cancer (BRCA1 or BRCA2).
4. Get to Know Their Family!
I’m pretty sure you know the names of Cynthia’s parents, siblings, and children. You many even know where they work and if they are Scorpios or Geminis. After all, she’s your BFF! Well, you should get to know the family history of your breasts.
Becoming familiar with your breast health history is important for knowing your risk for breast cancer.
Did your mom have breast cancer? Did your great- grandmother pass away from breast cancer?
This is all important information that you should share with your doctor. This will help your doctor make recommendations about when you should start getting mammograms.
Ladies, knowing your breast for yourself can be the difference between your life or death. Don’t let breast cancer awareness month be the only time you pay attention to your girls.
Use these tips and be your own “breast” friend all year long! Read more about how breast cancer affects the everyday woman in , "Woman, Take Off Your Cape!"