Monday, October 3, 2011

Boob Awareness and Neurofibromatosis

"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".

Test 1
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!

Test 2

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.
Test 3
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!  
Test 4
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.
Test 5
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.

Is It Breast Cancer? Warning Signs You Shouldn't Ignore

Breast cancer has some obvious and not-so-obvious symptoms that you shouldn't ignore. Pay attention to your breast health so that you can identify changes early on. Schedule an appointment with your doctor right away if you experience any of the following symptoms in one or both breasts:
  • A new firm lump or mass in your breast
  • Your nipple suddenly becomes inverted (goes in) or dimpled
  • Discharge from your breast other than milk that comes out on its own
  • You're being treated for an infection of the breast and it doesn't get any better or any worse after a week or two

    I have wanted to talk about this topic for a LONG time, but wasn't sure how to approach it.  And all joking aside, it is estimated that approximately 40,000 women (just in the USA) will die from breast cancer!  So while you may think it's silly or uncomfortable to touch yourself, it could very likely save your life!

    Being comfortable with my own body, is VITAL, if I am to THRIVE.  Thriving doesn't just stop at Neurofibromatosis....I plan to THRIVE in every single area of my life!

    If you haven't touched your boobs this it RIGHT NOW!

    Thrive On!


  1. Would it be wrong for me to go to the Dr Oz show and when he does the 'does the audience have a question?' part for me to say, "I'm wondering about my breast. I've felt a lump?" Ya know, just to get HIM to feel my boobs? So I could say Doc Oz played with my boobs!! What a bloggable moment, right?!

  2. My mom has NF (as do I and many other family members) and is a breast cancer surviour. Thank you for your post and the reminder!

  3. Love it! Remember Anita Renfroe's take on getting a mammogram? That was funny!