I originally planned this post back at the beginning of September, but after discovering that October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, I thought I would save until now.  Breast Cancer research and awareness is a cause which is close to my heart, as it is for millions of other men and women around the world.  Statistics show that breast cancer is the most common cancer in women in the UK, and 1 in 8 women in the UK will develop breast cancer during their lifetime, so it is highly likely that most of us will know someone who has been affected by breast cancer,which is a sobering thought.

The idea of Breast Cancer Awareness Month is to encourage women of all ages to check their breasts regularly.  Checking your breasts isn’t just about feeling for a lump, but also about learning what is normal for your breasts, and knowing what unusual changes to look out for.  I saw on the news yesterday that, shockingly, 98% of women do not know what changes (other than a lump) may indicate breast cancer, so in this post I will share those signs with you.  You may find that your  breasts look or feel different at different times of the month depending on what stage you are at during your menstrual cycle, for example, your breasts may feel swollen or tender, or even slightly lumpy, so it is important to tune in to these natural changes and know what is usual for you.

What to look out for…

It is incredibly important to use your eyes as well as your hands when checking your breasts, as some signs of breast cancer are visible.  To check for visible signs, it is a good idea to look in a mirror and view your breasts from all angles, both with your arms in the air and at your side.  Here are the changes you should be looking for:

  • Swelling, in your armpit or in your collarbone.
  • Changes in the texture of the skin, including dimpling or puckering (a little bit like orange peel).
  • A change in nipple size or shape, or even nipple inversion.
  • Nipple discharge.
  • A rash or crusting on the breast or around the nipple.

But remember, even if cancer is present you may not have all, if any, of these signs, so it is important to feel your breasts as well.

What to feel for…

Many people think that cancer of the breast will always manifest as a lump.  However, though lumps are common, breast cancer can also feel like a thickening of the breast tissue, so bear this in mind when checking your breasts.  Also, if you feel constant pain in your breast or armpit, don’t ignore it.

How to feel your breasts…

It is recommended that you check your breasts once or twice a month, when relaxed, and preferably with a soapy hand whilst in the bath or shower.  Checking your breasts isn’t just about feeling for lumps, but about feeling what is normal for you, so pay attention to how your breasts usually feel.

A good technique to check your breasts is to do the following:

  • Using the flat part (not the fingertips) of three or four of your fingers, roll over your breast tissue in a circular motion, feeling for any lumps or thickening.  Start at the top and move all the way round the breast until you reach the top again.
  • Moving closer towards the nipple, do the same again, and repeat until you reach the nipple.
  • Sweep the flat part of your fingers from the side of your breast and up towards your armpit, as your breast tissue extends up to your armpit.
  • Gently squeeze your nipple at the 12 and 6 o clock position, as well as the 9 and 3 o clock position to check for any discharge.

If you can see or feel ANY changes in your breasts that are not normal to you then it is extremely important to see your doctor as soon as possible.  I myself recently found a lump in my breast.  I was terrified and very nervous about going to see the doctor, but I knew it was necessary so I bit the bullet and went.  The doctor was very kind and gentle and checked my breast for me, and luckily, thankfully, everything was okay in the end, but it is always better to be safe than sorry, as I’m sure you’ll all agree.

How you can help…

To show your support for Breast Cancer Awareness Month, you can wear a pink ribbon.

I am currently wearing this beautiful Magenta Crusade Pink from Avon which costs £1.50, and all proceeds go to charity.  Avon have been fundraising for Breakthrough Breast Cancer for 20 years now, and they often sell other products for the charity, including nail files, baking sets and mugs, so keep an eye out for these when browsing your Avon brochure!

There are also lots of other gorgeous pins and things for sale on the high street this month, some of the proceeds of which will go to charities such as Breast Cancer Care.  There is a full list of items here, but here are a few of the fashion and beauty related products you can buy…

QVS Ergo Eyelash Curler – £3.99

Boux Avenue Lyla Bra (£26) and Knickers (£16, or £12 thong)

Palmer’s Cocoa Butter Formula Skin Therapy Oil – £9.99

Special Edition Twinpack Cherry Chapstick – £2.49

QVS Two Professional Nail Shapers – £1.99

Penelope Pink Tangle Teaser – £13.99

I hope you have found this post useful, and whether male or female, please remember to check your breasts on a regular basis.  Oh and please show your support for Breast Cancer Awareness and wear a pink ribbon – I am!

Naomi x