Thursday, 29 October 2015

Breast Cancer Awareness


Falling leaves, pumpkins, late nights, roaring fires and hot chocolate. October is a month filled with some of my favourite things. 

We are surrounded by beautiful Autumnal colours throughout October. However recently October is getting better known for another colour. Pink. 

October is Breast Cancer Awareness month. A month where companies trivialise a serious illness by selling fluffy pink crap to the masses. Now I know I'm being harsh here. 

My stance is that as long as the fluffy pink crap is raising money to fund research then that's a good thing. So as long as you know 10% of that Diet Coke pack with the pink ribbon you just bought is going to charity rather than 100% than that's fine. 

Before I was diagnosed I was happy to raise money for breast cancer charities. I bought all the pink stuff going and even raised a few hundred pounds for Tickled Pink by completing the Yorkshire Three Peak Challenge. So although I may of helped by raising money if I'm honest these things didn't make me any more 'aware' of breast cancer. I didn't buy a Pink fluffy pen and then go home and check my breasts.

This year obviously I've never been more aware of breast cancer. On 1st October 2015 I was two days in to my first cycle of chemotherapy. October was the first time I felt sick not from the cancer itself but from the cancer treatment. The cancer treatment I need so that I can hopefully live for a long time.

This October I also joined the Younger Breast Cancer Network. This is a fantastic group of ladies in the UK. All of them are under 45 and have breast cancer. These ladies have been invaluable in getting me through my treatment so far and I've made some great friends. We are all supporting each to deal with breast cancer. Dealing with sickness, pain and unfortunately death. Some of us have lived with cancer for years and will go one to live a long and happy life. Others have been diagnosed with primary breast cancer and died within the year. 

So let's stop getting our bra straps out ala M&S's recent campaign fronted my a beautiful Victoria's Secret model (who I'm guessing hasn't had to have either of her boobs hacked off) Stop strapping Diet Coke cans to our chests, posting no make up selfies and raise some actual awareness. 

I found out I had breast cancer as I was symptomatic. I found a lump in my breast. In England the mammogram age is currently 50 years and older. Therefore if you are under 50 the only way to determine if you have breast cancer is by CHECKING YOURSELF to see if you have any of the symptoms and getting yourself to your GP. 

I found my lump in my left breast on the first day of our holiday to Rhodes. In honesty I wasn't exactly doing a self examination at the time. I happened to be resting my head on my left arm and felt a lump just below my nipple.

I could not feel the lump at all while standing or sat up. I could only feel it ever so slightly when I was lying down. It was the most prominent with my left arm above my head.

So please check yourself both stood, sat and lying down. Both with your arms up above your head and to your side (one arm at a time and use the opposite hand to check) 

Look at your boobs in the mirror to check for any noticeable changes. Any changes  you can see such as size or shape, lumps, thickening, swelling, rashes, puckering or dimpling of the skin.

Look for any changes in your nipples including discharge or bleeding.

Feel for any lumps or thickening in your breasts. Watch out for any pain in your breasts. A common myth regarding breast cancer is that it's not painful. I had a dull ache in my left breast a week before I found the lump.

Use the diagram below on a regular basis to check yourself.


Pass this on to all your friends and family and make sure they are checking themselves too. 

My breast cancer is grade 3 (the highest grade)it's Her2 positive which means it's a highly aggressive and highly active cancer. I don't want to scare people but I can't stress the importance of early detection enough. 

So check your breasts at least once a month. Make sure your friends and family are checking their breasts too! 


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