Growing up I’d always hear the same moans & groans from pals when it came to their boobs. 50% would complain they were flat chested and longed to fill a C cup and the other 50% would complain about the toils of having double Gs. I remember when I was around 11 I was desperate to have my first bra and literally forced my Mum to take me to M&S to be fitted despite having nothing but nipples because I was desperate to upgrade from a crop. My boobs definitely took a while to appear but when they did I went through an extreme love/hate relationship with them. I wanted them to be bigger, then I wanted them to be smaller and they’re wonky. It turns out that over half of women have the same so if you’re in that club then high 5 sister!
When I was 16 I had the news that my Mum had developed breast cancer. Looking back, I don’t think I really understood the seriousness of what was going on and the memories from that time are hazy. I remember making my Mum a mixtape to have playing whilst she was in surgery and when she came out, her telling me that I was going to have to start looking after her. I have an older brother and sister who were both at University & my Dad was going through a difficult time too so I suddenly felt like I had a lot of growing up to do. I don’t want to go into too much detail about that time in my life but it was a hard. It was really fucking hard. I hated seeing her so sick and I wanted to do anything I could to take her pain away. She is such a fighter. I don’t think I’ve ever met a woman with more strength than my Mum, she never wants to worry anyone else and despite everything she’s been through she isn’t bitter. Mum opted for radiotherapy instead of chemotherapy to fight the cancer, being the selfless person she is, she didn’t want a treatment that would make her less able to provide for us. I am so happy to say that she was given a miracle, we all were and after months of hospital visits, surgery and medication she was cleared of cancer. She has regular check ups to make sure it hasn’t returned and it’s now been 8 years cancer free. It makes my stomach churn to think of how things could have been different. Many of the women in my family have been affected by cancer. I’m at peace with the fact that it could happen to me and for now, I’m focusing on doing everything I can to keep myself healthy & checking myself regularly for lumps.
1 in 8 women will experience breast cancer in their lifetime. That’s the reality, but the earlier it is found, the more likely people can live a full and brilliant life. I think this is something we should be talking about, we should be encouraging everyone to be checking their bodies regularly. We should remember how lucky we are to have our breasts and should spend less time focusing on their aesthetic faults and more time checking ourselves for lumps. So, how do you do that? The following is lifted from the breastcancer.org website – There are also images there too if you need extra guidance.
Step 1: Begin by looking at your breasts in the mirror with your shoulders straight and your arms on your hips. Here’s what you should look for: Breasts that are their usual size, shape, and colour. Breasts that are evenly shaped without visible distortion or swelling. If you see any of the following changes, bring them to your doctor’s attention: Dimpling, puckering, or bulging of the skin. A nipple that has changed position or an inverted nipple (pushed inward instead of sticking out). Redness, soreness, rash, or swelling.
Step 2: Now, raise your arms and look for the same changes.
Step 3: While you’re at the mirror, look for any signs of fluid coming out of one or both nipples.
Step 4: Next, feel your breasts while lying down, using your right hand to feel your left breast and then your left hand to feel your right breast. Use a firm, smooth touch with the first few finger pads of your hand, keeping the fingers flat and together. Use a small circular motion. Cover the entire breast from top to bottom, side to side — from your collarbone to the top of your abdomen, and from your armpit to your cleavage. Be sure to feel all the tissue from the front to the back of your breasts: for the skin and tissue just beneath, use light pressure; use medium pressure for tissue in the middle of your breasts; use firm pressure for the deep tissue in the back. When you’ve reached the deep tissue, you should be able to feel down to your ribcage.
Step 5: Finally, feel your breasts while you are standing or sitting. Many women find that the easiest way to feel their breasts is when their skin is wet and slippery, so they like to do this step in the shower. Cover your entire breast, using the same hand movements described in step 4.
These five steps could save your life or the life of someone close to you. We spend so much time consumed in other things but it’s really important to be checking yourself regularly and if you notice anything of concern, consult your doctor straight away!
Coppa feel – This website has loads of information and the option to get lump check reminder texts