When I was a teenager I went to a Girl Guide conference my Mom. At least I think it was a conference...truthfully I don't remember much about the day other than the fact that my Mom and I learned how to do self breast exams. Before that day I didn't know much about the importance of self exams much less how to do it. 17 year olds don't think about breast cancer...at least they didn't when I was a teenager. I walked away from that day and started to do self exams. I learned that yes you may find bumps and lumps but that these may not be anything to be concerned about as they may come and go with your cycle. Of course this doesn't mean that I didn't freak out every time I felt something that I didn't think belonged. Did we even have the internet back then? If we did I am sure I 'Excite'd' to find out if I had cause for concern. As with any teenager 'fads' wane and I stopped doing my weekly checks. It wasn't until just this past week that I started again. I can't tell you what it is that made me start again but I just found myself in the shower and thinking 'huh maybe I should just give myself a good old exam here and see what we got going on'. Note to self - it is much hard to give yourself an exam on huge adult boobs than it is on big teenager boobs.
Truthfully I am glad that I have started again and will continue to check myself weekly. Cancer scares the crap out of me.The past 2 years I have walked in the Toronto Weekend to End Women's Cancers with all the proceeds of my fundraising ($3450!!) going to breast cancer research at Princess Margaret Hospital. Each year as we walk we meet women who have lost loved one's or who are battling cancer themselves. We meet survivors and hero's. 2 years ago there was a young girl handing out high 5's at the end of our 60km journey. We thought she was the daughter of a walker and just there to cheer everyone on. We were wrong. She is Canada's youngest breast cancer survivor at the tender age of 4 (then, now 5). She was 2 and a half when her mom discovered the lump in her breast and since then she has undergone treatments to kick cancers ass including a full mastectomy. (Photo courtesy of Globe and Mail)
2 and a half....seriously that makes the 17 year old me for thinking that breast cancer couldn't happen to me. Walking those 95km has opened my eyes to the disease and the importance of protecting our boobs. So what can we all do? Well nothing is guaranteed but I think that if you live a healthy life you will reduce your chances of getting breast cancer. What exactly does that mean?
Eat less meat and more whole grains, fruit and vegetables. Make it organic too to reduce your exposure to harmful pesticides. If you do eat meat then make sure it is antibiotic and hormone free.
Go for walks (or you know train for a nice fall 60km walk), run, join a gym, sign up for boot camp ....do whatever it is that you need to do to stay healthy and active.
Reduce your exposure to chemicals
Don't use chemicals on your lawn or garden, don't use toxic cleaners in your home and don't use them on yourself either! Look for green cleaners and body care products that are certified or from a reputable company. Do your research and know what is in the products you are exposing yourself to so you can limit your exposure to harmful chemicals.
Touch your boobs
Yep, touch them. Take a course if you need to or use Google to find instructional videos or photos of the best way to do a self exam. Stay proactive. Studies show that when breast cancer is detected early the survival rate (5 year) is 98%. Sadly over 30% of women are diagnosed after the cancer has spread and is no longer localized.
Know your family history
If there is a history of breast cancer in your family make sure you talk to your doctor. Get clinical breast exams and talk about early mammograms.
National Breast Cancer Foundation
Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation