• Julie Gallahue

Boobs Part 1: The basics

“I hate my tiny tits!”

This was my first declaration to anyone who complimented my figure from the time I had breasts until I was 32. In my mind, a cup size larger was the difference between average happiness and pure emotional bliss. Thankfully, my wallet was too thin to support any notions of augmentation because by the time I was forty all my peers’ chests were migrating towards their belly buttons. I was grateful for those small breasts that were exactly in the same position on my chest as where they originally started.

My love-hate relationship with the girls isn’t unique. According to our survey of 37 women, only 20% report being satisfied with their breasts. Number one complaint; size. Second concern; health. That should be reversed because the general appearance of your rack in a form fitting sweater should be less important than if you had say breast cancer because no on has ever died from having an A cup but, about 41,000 women die from breast cancer every year in America according to the CDC. And it’s not just women. Men can and do get breast cancer as well.

The good news is that breast cancer is treatable with an overall 90% 5 year survival rate when detected early according the American Cancer Society. Therefore, many healthcare providers recommend self-exams monthly. Some healthcare providers advise that every other month is often enough for most women with no family history of breast cancer or other risk factors. But, why not just do it monthly to be on the safe side? It’s not like it’s hard to find time with your chest, it goes everywhere with you.

There are better times of the month to check your breasts according to our Breast expert and certified nurse-midwife Heather Scott. Heather recommends one week post period due to hormone fluctuations as many women experience tender, swollen and sometimes lumpy breasts a week before they menstruate.

Photo by National Cancer Institute on Unsplash

The American Cancer Society also advises that women know their breasts so they can tell their doctor right away if they notice any differences in appearance or any lumps right away. In addition, they advise women who have no high-risk factors to begin yearly mammograms by the age of 45. Click here for additional information about screenings and risk factors.

Doing a self-exam is as easy. Just follow these 4 steps provided by Heather.

1. Extend your arms above your head.

2. Let them rest at your sides.

3. Put your hands on your hips and shrug your shoulders to tighten the chest muscles.

4. Bend forward with hands on hips. You are looking for any dimpling of the skin, rashes, peeling skin, or spontaneous nipple discharge if you are not breastfeeding.

If you notice any of these changes, schedule a visit with your provider.

Now that you know how to do your self exam, let’s make sure you don’t have a panic attack when you find your first lump. Not all lumps are cancerous! “Lumps that feel rubbery, move when touched and are tender may be fluid filled cysts” instructs Heather. “Typically, a suspicious lump may feel stuck, does not move and is irregular in shape and size.”

A few years ago, I experienced an episode that lasted several weeks where my left breast was hard, lumpy and felt painful to touch. After hours of google diagnosing, I had worked myself into a frenzy convinced I had a serious problem on my hands or on my chest anyway. I ran into friend of mine that I had not seen in years and, as it turned out, she had recently won the battle with Captain Cancer. She assured me, based on her crash course on Breast Cancer, that cancer lumps don’t usually hurt. I was immediately comforted. Heather confirms that typically this is the case at least in the early stages. Remember, early detection is the key to bouncing back. So, check out your girls often and report any changes to your doctor right away!!!

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