For Breast Cancer Awareness month, legendary tennis player and mother, Serena Williams, has released her own version of the Divinyls hit ‘I Touch Myself.’ Named after the song, the campaign was launched in 2014 in honor of celebrated diva, Chrissy Amphlett. Its mission is to create conversation and educational forums that remind women to be aware of their body and be mindful about its changes.
Chrissy spent her days spreading awareness of the importance of early detection and wanted the track to be embraced as an anthem for breast health around the world. Williams, in partnership with Berlei for the Breast Cancer Network Australia, encourages all women to regularly examine their breasts.
“Yes, this put me out of my comfort zone, but I wanted to do it because it’s an issue that affects all women of all colors, all around the world,” Williams wrote on Instagram. “Early detection is key – it saves so many lives. I just hope this helps to remind women of that.”
Power of Self-Awareness
Founded in 1985, the conception of National Breast Cancer Awareness Month was to promote mammography and early detection in women. Now over 30 years later, October is the month where we paint the town pink. From celebrities donning pink ribbons to NFL athletes sporting pink cleats, it is hard to miss that the month marks Breast Cancer Awareness. But is awareness enough to impact the lives of women? What role does each of us play in this tough battle against breast cancer?
The latest estimates from the American Cancer Society show that about 40,920 women will die from this deadly disease in the United States alone. Breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in women and has touched many of us in some way.
According to the National Breast Cancer Foundation, 1 in 8 American women are at risk of developing breast cancer. This year, we are expected to hear around 266,120 new cases of invasive breast cancer and 63,960 new cases of carcinoma in situ (CIS) in women. It is so common that you probably have a friend or relative that has gone through this battle, dealing with endless tests, heavy medications, and chemotherapy. These numbers point out something extremely important for all women – that it is crucial to know your body and be on top of your health.
Being aware of your own body and being diligent about routine health checkups can make a huge impact on breast cancer treatment. If you are not aware of how your breasts normally look and feel, you might not notice a small lump that could be a sign of cancer. Without self-awareness, many lives of women will be extremely different.
Know Your Lemons: 12 Signs of Breast Cancer
The Worldwide Breast Cancer is a non-profit organization that shares information on early detection. In their campaign, #KnowYourLemons, they help women all over the world to learn what signs to look for. Of course, you are bound to experience some changes to your bosom in your lifetime. Still, it pays to be smart and show your doctor once you see any of these signs:
- Dimple – Tight-fitting clothes can leave a temporary indentation or a dimple in the breast. If it doesn’t go away, it could mean that there’s a bigger underlying problem. A lump or tumor deep in the breast may pull the skin inward, creating a dimple. To spot this easily, lift your arms up above your head to check if the entire breast skin moves with you or not.
- Nipple Crust – A crust on the nipple can be just a harmless skin condition or a mark of breast cancer called “Paget’s disease.” This is when cancer cells spread inside the breast and live in the nipple, forming a scab-like white or red crusted surface that can be painful and doesn’t go away.
- Thick Area – Breastfeeding and menstruation may cause your skin to thicken, but it all should be temporary. A thickened breast skin that won’t go away could be a sign of inflammatory breast cancer. This change happens when cancer cells block blood or lymph vessel circulation in the breast.
- Red or Hot – This is usually an infection that comes with eczema or breastfeeding. If antibiotics or other medication won’t do the trick, it could be a sign of cancer. Inflammatory breast cancer causes swelling and redness, but without an obvious hard lump.
- Bump – Not all lumps and bumps in the breast are cancerous. Still, these are some of the most common signs of cancer and are always worthy of concern. Ask your doctor to examine them to make sure they are harmless.
- Skin Sores – Buildup of cancer cells in the breast may break the skin and form an open wound. This is followed by an infection that causes a leakage and bad smell.
- Unexpected Fluid – Discharge from the nipple is common for developing breasts, infection, breastfeeding, pregnancy, and cysts. If you are experiencing discharge out of these changes, have your physician determine if it’s cancer.
- Sunken Nipple – If your nipples are not naturally retracted and you are seeing them turn inwards, there could be a tumor underneath.
- “Orange Peel” Skin – This is when the skin of the breast looks like the dimpled skin of an orange. Swelling and change in color can be a sign of inflammatory breast cancer.
- Hard Lump – This may feel hard and immovable, like a lemon seed. Hard lumps are not always easy to feel, that’s why a regular mammogram is essential. This screening procedure can detect a lump long before it can be felt.
- New Shape or Size – Many factors could lead to a change in your breast shape or size. If you feel your breasts flattening, swelling, or droops unexpectedly, be sure to notify your doctor.
- Growing Vein – This is an extremely rare symptom and is usually not a sign of cancer. However, if the veins become more pronounced on the breast skin or near the collarbone (and sometimes accompanied by a swollen arm), it could mean that a cancerous tumor is drawing blood to itself.
When it comes to spotting cancer, earlier the better. Detecting the condition at a premature stage means treating it before it spreads. Self-awareness involves being mindful of your body, including any changes.
Pay attention to how your breasts normally feel. If you notice anything that is out of the ordinary, tell your doctor immediately. You also need to understand which factors contribute to your risk of having breast cancer, including your family genetics, history, and lifestyle choices.