'Am I doing it right?'

I've asked myself that same question many times and do you know what? in the end, to avoid doing it wrong, I decided not to do it at all... Does this sound at all familiar?

Four women in my family have luckily kicked breast cancer's arse, so I always feel terrified to self-examine, find something and not know if it is normal.

Two years ago after noticing some skin dimpling, I decided to go to the GP and have it checked out. She said the skin looked normal. However, due to my family history, she decided to examine my breasts finding a lump in the right one.

She did not say much but referred me urgently to the Breast Clinic. I left the GP surgery in tears with my head buzzing thinking, I have breast cancer...

Following a biopsy, they diagnosed a fibroadenoma, a benign breast tumor, not cancer. The consultant then explained that our breasts consist of loads of different tissue such as fat, breast tissue, lobules, lobes and ducts and so on. When we self-examine, we might feel different things that are nothing to worry about. (I would have loved to hear that from the GP as when she mentioned a lump all I could think of was breast cancer...).

I asked the breast consultant how to self-examine and what I should look for when doing so. Today I want to share this with you all, however you identify, this cancer does not discriminate by gender and so we all need to check our bits regularly!

(Illustration by @heyimsakina available in store)

4 important keys

Breast Self-Examination

How to self-examine your bits!

I feel this video explains brilliantly how to self-examine. Just press the nipple!


(When checking your armpit, remember to feel all the way to the collar bone. Breast tissue extends all the way here!)

Remember!

Checking them once a month is ideal

The ideal time to check our boobies is 1 week after our period ends. During our menstrual cycle, our hormone levels fluctuate causing changes to the breast tissue, so it is always best to wait until our breasts are back to normal. If you do not have regular periods, or periods at all, perform a self-examination on the same day every month.  


What are the changes I need to look out for?


According to the NHS, you should see your GP if you notice any of the following changes:  

A noticeable change in the size, outline or shape of your breast

A change in the look or feel of your skin, such as puckering or dimpling

A new lump, thickening or bumpy area in one breast or armpit that is different from the same area on the other side

Nipple discharge that's not milky

Bleeding from your nipple

A moist, red area on your nipple that doesn't heal easily

Any change in nipple position, such as your nipple being pulled in or pointing differently

A rash on or around your nipple

Any discomfort or pain in one breast, particularly if it's a new pain and doesn't go away (although pain is only a symptom of breast cancer in rare cases)

Don’t be afraid to talk to your GP if you have any concerns or need help to feel more confident with self-examination. They are there to help you.

 

If you find a lump, do not panic and always call your GP.