in the great tradition of ‘roobs on the internet’, i decided a couple of days ago that it was time for another boob reminder - only to google something earlier for fact-checking purposes to realise that it’s also world cancer day. how serendipitous.
so - gonna just check them real quick? if you don’t do it for me, do it for you. or, actually, do it for your mum or your dad or your kids, or whoever it’d be that would have to deal with the massive hole you’d leave in their lives if you were too blasé to check yourself and you missed something that could save you. no shade, but at the end of the day it comes down to this: not being diligent about your health is selfish.
now, some resources would have you believe that there’s an exact science to checking your boobs when, really, having ANY knowledge whatsoever about what your boobs are normally like makes all the difference. you don’t have to follow strict guidelines, you don’t have to know the correct series of steps. feel them, and look at them. doesn’t matter for how long. doesn’t even really matter exactly how often. do it regularly and do it thoroughly. all that you’re trying to achieve is to know what your boobs are normally like, so that you can know if anything changes.
you can do it lying down, or sitting, or standing, or in the shower. one website i once read said that you had to do it in every possible position, but i think that as long as you’re definitely able to feel every bit - collarbone to ribs, armpit to chest etc - it doesn’t really matter. keep your fingers together and flat and press down using the whole top halves - not just the fingertips. you wanna press down quite firmly, but not to the point you’re just squishing them. you should use increasing pressure from the skin to the medium tissue to the deep tissue. it doesn’t matter if you go up and down from the collarbone, or if you start at the nip and work out the way in a circular motion - they suggest doing it in a pattern to ensure you cover the whole area and don’t risk missing any bits. but find a way you like to do it, and you do you.
i reckon a lot of women also don’t really know what to feel for. yeeeeears ago i read an analogy for it somewhere that’s always stuck with me: boobs are naturally quite lumpy things anyway, but if you were to find a hazelnut in a bowl of porridge you’d be able to tell the lumps apart. in others words, i think what they’re saying is that you know one when you feel it.
but, having said that, there are a number of other things to look out for that don’t involve lumps. THIS is why it’s so important to know what is normal for your boobs - sometimes it may not be as obvious as a big round lump. i’ve given this list before, but it’s as important as ever:
- pain in your boob or armpit
- a change in texture - i.e dimpling
- a change in the shape or size
- discharge from your nipple
- inversion or change of direction in the nipple
- crusting or a rash on/around the nipple
- swelling in the armpit or around your collarbone
more people are surviving cancer than ever before - but the fear associated with the disease often makes people reluctant to go to the doctor with symptoms. denial over our health will get us nowhere. we have to know our bodies, know when they change, and know that it’s always, always better to be safe rather than sorry.
so, please, please, join me in having a feel tonight. and then set a reminder on your phone to do the same in a month. don’t wait until you’re a cautionary tale saying ‘if only i’d checked my boobs’. like…just do it?