It was the usual medical check-up that was done for freshers at the university. The queue was long, the crowd was crazy and I was tired and worn but I was determined I wasn’t going to leave and come back the next day, I had been doing that for 3-days in a row and it wasn’t yet my turn. Suddenly, my name was called Adebamz, I jumped and shouted, I’m here! I’m here! She looked towards me and told me to come in.
It was an eye and breast examination. The eye examination went well and was quite straight to the point and then I was directed to see the doctor that would examine my breast. I was told to lie down while she pressed my breast looking for lumps going further to check under the armpit. After the examination, she asked me if I had started my period but I answered the question thinking she asked me if I was presently on my period because I was on my period as at the time. She further explained to me that most times when women are on their period they would normally have a lump in their breast and that after the period the lump disappears.
However, after a couple of months, I had noticed a change in my right breast, something was protruding out of my skin like it wanted to come out. It moved around in my breast, had a pointed look and was hard, very hard but I didn’t quite pay much attention to it, the word ‘’Lumps’’, ‘’Breast Cancer’’ was just beginning to gain more ground at the time and so I was not too familiar with what was happening in my body. On days when I decided to pay full attention to my body, I would wonder what was growing in my breast and then I would say a short prayer over my breast, anoint it with oil and go about my daily activities.
One evening during the summer holiday I sat across from my sister watching a program on TV where the lady was talking about breast cancer, the dangers and how women have to be more observant when it comes to their bodies, the presenter kept asking the doctor who had been invited for the program series of questions and the various stages leading up to breast cancer and then I remember blurting out as we watched the show ‘’I have lump in my breast” and it was if time stood still. My mum was informed of the news and then an appointment was scheduled with the doctor.
The examination was rigorous and draining. I had to see a couple of doctors and some specialist before a final diagnosis was concluded. The final result was that I had lumps in both breasts and it was good that they caught it fast but I would need to undergo a lumpectomy.
The days leading up to the operation were a bit scary. All of the gory stories I had heard about operations came to mind. The operation wasn’t a long one only that I was awake during the whole process, the lumps were removed and while I was being sewn back I started to feel the pain, the medication that I was given at the start of the operation to numb the pain was beginning to wear off even while still under the knife but it all panned out in the end.
Its been 8 years since I had a lumpectomy and I can still remember all of the experiences vividly and all the things I went through. I still go for check-ups and I have also learnt to check my breast by myself. My lumps weren’t cancerous but now I’m more aware of changes to my breasts and body in general. I believe every woman should learn and know how to touch themselves to check for lumps in their breasts.
Early detection is key. And it’s paramount that every woman is familiar with how their breast looks and feel so you can know when any changes occur. Keep in mind that most women have some lumps or lumpy areas in their breasts all the time, and most breast lumps turn out not to be cancerous.
How to do a breast self-exam: The five steps
- Breasts that are their usual size, shape, and colour
- Breasts that are evenly shaped without visible distortion or swelling
- 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
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:
If you see any of the following changes, bring them to your doctor’s attention:
Now, raise your arms and look for the same changes.
While you’re at the mirror, look for any signs of fluid coming out of one or both nipples (this could be a watery, milky, or yellow fluid or blood).
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 circular motion, about the size of a quarter.
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.
Follow a pattern to be sure that you cover the whole breast. You can begin at the nipple, moving in larger and larger circles until you reach the outer edge of the breast. You can also move your fingers up and down vertically, in rows, as if you were mowing a lawn. This up-and-down approach seems to work best for most women. 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.
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.
Therefore, In honour of the fact that we’re in the breast cancer awareness month, make a pledge to touch yourself for your breast health. Share this message with the Men and Women in your lives, ask them ” When was the last time they checked their breasts?
Don’t forget to share your experiences with me or leave your thoughts with me after reading, I can’t wait to hear from you.
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