October Is Breast Cancer Awareness Month

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As a breast cancer survivor, I thought I'd post some thoughts about it.

The importance of doing a self-examination.
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That’s more or less how I found my tumor. One day when I was showering, I found a lump the size of a tiny pebble in one of my breasts when my soapy hand passed over my breast. The slippery surface of my skin in combination with the location of the tumor, which was more in my chest tissue than in my breast tissue, made it easier to find. Because the tumor was slightly isolated and prominent, I was surprised to discover that the lump was painless and very hard (composed mostly of calcium). What turned out to be an accidental discovery has convinced me of the importance of regularly doing self-exams for early detection.
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Truth be told, prior to having breast cancer, I’d usually neglected doing self-exams because I didn’t make them a priority. Certainly, I understood the importance, but my thinking highlights a key reason why it's common to neglect our health in general and addresses the focus of my practice: In today’s modern world, of which it’s common to feel short on time and knowledge, we need practical ways of adopting a healthy lifestyle.
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The National Breast Cancer Foundation recommends doing a self-exam once a month and it can be done in the shower. For me, this is the simplest way of making a self-exam a part of my lifestyle. Here’s how to do a breast self-exam:
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Using the pads of your fingers, move around your entire breast in a circular pattern moving from the outside to the center, checking the entire breast and armpit area. Check both breasts each month feeling for any lump, thickening, or hardened knot. Notice any changes and get lumps evaluated by your healthcare provider.
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www.nationalbreastcancer.org/breast-self-exam
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The importance of doing a breast massage
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Breast massage, gentle movement of the breast tissue, stimulates circulation. Among other things, circulation assists in moving stagnant waste out of the body. The Mayo Clinic cites the lymphatic system (the “other” circulatory system that runs parallel to the heart/blood circulatory system) flushing out waste as crucial to vibrant health. Breast tissue is particularly vulnerable because it lacks the muscular action of, say, the arms and legs, which squeezes the lymphatic vessels, helping to push the lymphatic fluid along.
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Eastern traditions such as Ayurveda have long recognized the importance of breast massage. The physical action has other benefits, such as stimulating the body to produce sex hormones which boost the libido and maintain the structural integrity of breasts (i.e. saggy boobs, ladies).
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As with a self-exam, a breast massage can be done in the shower. You can spend as little as five minutes whenever you shower, breaking up the time intermittently over the course of your shower.
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The morning following my first breast massage, my urine was unusually strong, an indication of the waste that had accumulated in my breast tissue and was being excreted.

The importance of having breast cancer screenings
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As I wrote above, self-exams are effective in determining changes in a woman’s breasts that only she would know. As I’ve learned with my own breast cancer, self-exams are an essential first step in breast care.
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If a woman detects something unusual, she should see a doctor for a screening. Periodic screenings are also recommended for women who have a history or risk of breast cancer. Otherwise, women are advised to begin screenings around the age of 50. It’s best to consult with your healthcare practitioner to be sure.
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Currently, the primary screening test is a mammogram. Another screening test is a thermography. There are trade-offs with both. I prefer a thermography. The trade-offs are explained very well in this article: medicalnewstoday.com/articles/316632.php. Ladies, I encourage you to take a few moments to read this article now and/or do other research so that you can be prepared with an informed decision that you feel good about when you need it. As I’ve learned, it can be stressful and overwhelming to research health options when you’re in the midst of a health crisis.