"Save the Tata's", "I *heart* boobies", "Think Pink", "Put the squeeze on Breast Cancer"
It's hard to miss. Pink is EVERYWHERE! Even the Diet Pepsi can I am drinking from right now is pink. But if you haven't heard, October is breast cancer awareness month and it's in FULL swing!
Celebrating 25 years, The National Breast Cancer Awareness Association has been promoting awareness to help women all over the world to become experts with their own bodies. The Awareness doesn't just stop there, however...It involves everyone around the woman as well.
But what if you have a condition like Neurofibromatosis; a genetic condition that causes benign tumors or neurofibromas to grow along nerves in the body or on or under the skin?
I have Neurofibromatosis. I also have many tumors that are scattered all over my body...Including my breasts. The topic of breast cancer scares me, since people with 'NF' are more prone to various types of cancer.
When doing a self breast exam, it's hard for me to distinguish if what I am feeling is "normal"....Because normal for a woman with Neurofibromatosis, means something completely different for a woman without NF.
The first step in doing an exam is to get to know your boobs. Seriously. Touch em, squeeze em, tug on em....Trust me, they won't fall off!
Normal boobs are lumpy, so get to know your "lumps".
Using a mirror, inspect your boobs with your arms at your sides, with your hands on your hips, and with your arms raised while flexing your chest muscles. Men do this too, and sure it may look or seem silly, but it can save your life, so do it!
Look for any changes in contour, swelling, dimpling of skin, or appearance of the nipple. It is normal if your right and left breasts do not match. I have names for my boobs, but that's another blog post entirely.
Using the pads of your fingers, press firmly on your boob, checking the entire boob and armpit area. Move around your boob in a circular pattern. Remember to use the same method every month. Check both boobs. If you have any growths or painful lumps, make an appnt with your Dr. ASAP!
Gently squeeze the nipple of each boob and report any discharge to your doctor immediately. Ladies, if you are breastfeeding, this of course does not apply to you.
Examine both breasts lying down.
(I have to do this with the doors locked, cuz some people in my house may take this as an open invitation)
Women with Neurofibromatosis have a harder time with breast exams, because new neurofibromas are constantly appearing, but if you get comfy with touching your boobs, and being aware of any sudden or painful changes, you can have a successful breast exam too.