November 4, 2014

Monthly Breast Self-Exam and BC Secrecy


I'd like to address something that's been on my mind for a while though, and it's the issue of secrecy surrounding Breast Cancer, especially among Nigerians. Remember the Pink Pearl Foundation event I went to (see post here) - the founder mentioned that one of the biggest issues with forming a Breast Cancer support group is that people who have it aren't willing to speak up. They want to remain anonymous. I don't have Breast Cancer, and I pray I never do, so I cannot overly fault anyone who wishes to keep it a secret. However, I feel the need to point out that being quiet about it may not be the best option. 

First of all, there are hundreds - thousands of women out there who have Breast Cancer, so you have to know that you're not alone. In a difficult situation like this, wouldn't it be good to reach out to other women who are or have been in the same position as you? You might learn something new about how to cope with it better, or have someone you can vent to, or you might meet someone who can inspire you or give you tips on being comfortable and how to deal with it. 

Secondly, YOU might be the one who will inspire others. YOU can be the voice that will push that woman to make sure she keeps up with her breast self examination. YOU could be the person who can show that life goes on during and after Breast Cancer. YOU can tell your story - the hardships, the pain, the fear, the development of strength/grace, the resilience, the faith you had/have to lean on, etc.

Thirdly, I suspect that it's kept secret because some of you might feel ashamed. But IT'S NOT YOUR FAULT! You didn't do anything to bring on Breast Cancer. You didn't commit any sin so grievous that you're being punished. Yes, you can be angry or sad and ask God why you, but please please please remember that you didn't cause Breast Cancer. 

I'm not saying that you should go and shout it out from the roof tops, or broadcast it on social media. But stuff happens. That's life. If the opportunity presents itself where you can share and give of yourself, go ahead. If it's an opportunity to bare your soul and gain insight and inspiration from someone else, go for it.


*moving on to everyone else*

Don't forget to check your breasts this month! Put it in your calendar if you don't plan on doing it today :)

This graphic below from BreastCancer.Org is quite helpful
Step 1: 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:
  • Breasts that are their usual size, shape, and color
  • Breasts that are evenly shaped without visible distortion or swelling
If you see any of the following changes, bring them to your doctor's attention:
  • 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
Breast Self-Exam - Step 1
Breast Self-Exam — Step 1
Larger Version
Step 2: Now, raise your arms and look for the same changes.
Breast Self-Exam - Steps 2 and 3
Breast Self-Exam — Steps 2 and 3
Larger Version
Step 3: 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).
Step 4: 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.
Breast Self-Exam - Step 4
Breast Self-Exam — Step 4
Larger Version
Step 5: 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.
Breast Self-Exam - Step 5
Breast Self-Exam — Step 5
Larger Version
Graphic source

I love you and God bless you.


  1. Berry,I think secrecy is in our genetics,not just in cancer but in every aspect of our wellbeing or health. For the life of me I can't understand it,I believe if am going through something and can inspire just one person then it was worth it. No I don't have breast cancer,I still remember when I had my baby with a cs my friend who had one also, called for advice I see nothing wrong discussing it but an elderly woman was like hush u shouldn't tell its a thing of shame! Lord knows if we were age mates I might have a different story today lol

    1. I wholeheartedly agree with you about the secrecy. So even CS is now something of shame?! How can?!?!


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