If you didn’t already know, it is Breast Cancer Awareness this month of October! Even though breast cancer is probably one of the well-known cancers in the world there are a lot of people out there who are not aware that they should do a breast self-examination (BSE).
Picture source here
So maybe my story could help spread some awareness.
I am currently 23 years old, but wayyy (haha) back in Christmas of 2007 I was back home in Borneo for the holidays after starting my undergraduate studies in the UK.
Now normally I am not one who prods and pokes my own breasts (really, there is no fun) but weirdly enough while sitting in front of the computer I happened to be reading an article on breast cancer. I am not a stranger to breast cancer. It runs in my grandfather’s (on my mother’s side) of the family. Normally, if breast cancer runs in the maternal side (sister, mother, grandmother) the risk of breast cancer is higher. Fortunately, nobody on the maternal side has been afflicted with breast cancer. However, because both my grandaunts (survivors) had breast cancer I am naturally more wary of it.
So here I was reading this article, and absentmindedly my left hand decided to reach over to the side of my right breast and rubbed it gently. Then I felt it.
Something hard. It felt like an intruder, like it didn’t belong there.
Realisation dawned upon me that there was something in my right breast. So I rubbed again. Again and again. Then I rubbed my left breast. By this moment I wasn’t sure if I felt something but my panic started growing. I ran downstairs to my mum, slightly hysterical.
I had a checkup at a gynaecologist that night, and it was true. There was definitely a lump in my breast (or breasts, I can’t remember now). I had the option of doing a biopsy, but as I was flying back to UK in a few days time for my First Year exams I had no choice but to store away the fear and continue with a checkup in the UK.
I don’t want to bore you with the details, but I had checkups in UK, and in the summer in Kuala Lumpur. The specialist in UK stated I had a few lumps in both breasts. I underwent more examinations, though nothing invasive.
In the summer of 2008 I did my checkup in the Malaysian capital of Kuala Lumpur and had an ultrasound on my breasts. Apparently there was no abnormality in my right breast. In my left breast however there was a “well-defined 5.1 x 5.8 mm” lump. It was benign (non-cancerous), so the doctor told me that sometimes women have these sacs in their breasts, and that it was nothing to worry about in the time being. My last ultrasound screening was in the summer of 2009 and the same lump measured slightly smaller at 5.2 x 4.6 mm but it was still quite well-defined.
The doctor stated that the lump was most likely to be a “fibroadenoma“. It can either be removed, or left in the breast. I decided to do the latter because the doctor advised so. In her words, my lump is “too big to ignore, but too small for surgery”.
After my last yearly checkup in the summer of 2010 (I had a mammogram done with the same specialist in Kuala Lumpur), I decided to relax a little bit. Which means that I have actually not gone for a checkup at the specialist since then (it’s nearly 2 years now). I’m due for another checkup (the doctor recommended just a yearly checkup) so I hope for the best.
So that’s my story!
It doesn’t matter how young or old you are, checking your breasts is important. Breast cancer is so easily detectable now, and can be treated early.
So why not check your breasts right now?
It’s really simple. Here’s how to:
- You can either stand up or lie down.
- Examining your right breast: Put your right hand behind your head.
- Using your left hand, use your 4 fingers (without the thumb) and make it like a flat board.
- Gently but firmly press on all sides of your breasts. Don’t fold your fingers to follow the curve of your breast. Keep your fingers flat and straight.
- Do the same for your left breast.
- NOTE: Apparently if your breasts are “hurting” or feeling a little “sore”, this could be the effects of having your period.
I know this is a really lengthy post, but I thought that I should share my personal experience. This is my way of also supporting a friend’s “Pink Campaign” to spread more awareness about breast cancer! Click the badge below to see how other people are spreading the word about breast cancer.
I was very young when the first grandaunt was diagnosed with breast cancer. She had surgery to remove one of her breasts, and I can imagine how difficult that must have been for her. She’s nearing her 80s now and still a survivor! In fact, both my grandaunts are survivors of breast cancer and are still having fun 😀
Therefore, if you have breasts (yes even men can get breast cancer) please check them! If you have any personal stories you’d love to share, I’d be glad to hear them! I have not covered a lot of other areas regarding this topic like my attitude of seeing a male doctor, etc. so if you have any questions I will answer them for you!
Have a great week everyone xx