Wednesday, January 21, 2009
[This is perhaps more of a "ladies only" post; but should any guy be reading it, you might find some useful information to pass on to the ladies you love. Whether you volunteer to assist in the exam is entirely up to you...just make sure you actually know the lady you are talking to. And that she's not your mom. 'Cause that's just weird.]
So I did say I'd try to pass on some useful information. And it seems I've been discussing mammograms and breast self exams quite a bit of late (coincidence, I'm sure). I have to say, I'm a little surprised at how many people are surprised I caught "it" myself and horrified to know it was only 5 months after I had a normal mammogram. Hey, ladies---that's why they tell you to do a self exam!! I've since learned that in "younger" women (yeah, I'm only young for cancer; dang) it is common that the cancer would be a faster growing one, so a younger woman who catches "it" early is most likely to catch it herself. I hate to think what shape I'd be in now if I had just waited another 7 months until my next mammogram.
And then here's something that was surprising to me, and would have been helpful if I had known this before. When you do your self exam, you're not just looking for lumps. You are looking for something different in your breast. Anything different. So yeah, that means you need to know what the girls normally feel like. No, not whether they feel perky, or droopy, or in need of some company. Are they normally dense, lumpy, squishy, whatever? That's what you need to know. Then you need to check for changes of any kind. I felt what I can only describe as a sort of thickening at the "10 o'clock" spot on the right about a month or even 6 weeks before I felt something that finally made me say "no, I think that's a lump." So that means, 3 months after my "A-okay" mammogram I could feel a change--and I could only feel it with my arm raised over my head when I was laying down. It didn't feel like a lot, but it was something different. I just didn't know then that "something different" should have been enough to scoot my boobies into my doctor's office. That's all you are looking for--something different. "It" doesn't necessarily feel like a "lump." Of course, now post-biopsy mine feels like a golf ball attached inside my breast at the 10 o'clock position, but that could be partially in my mind (and partially in my breast!).
Here's some helpful info direct from the American Cancer Society:
How to Do the Self Exam
I actually searched for a video (so you wouldn't have to), but really it's a bit much. Apparently pretty much anyone with a pair can do a video on self exam. And I think there's some fetish stuff out there. (I shudder to think what sorts of spam I'll be getting the next few days.) So, Cancer Society posting it is!
Update: Thanks to Laureen I found another great website (and OMG a great t-shirt!) and it has an even better posting for how to feel your boobies.
click here: Learn to Feel Yourself Up!