They Told Me Not To Bother
In my practice and my classes, my job is to ask all the women I work with:
1- Do you perform breast self-check? (1/3 of women perform breast self-check regularly) *
2- How often? (21% practice breast self-check monthly) *
3- Do you feel confident when you are doing your self-check?
Unfortunately, the response I regularly hear to item 3 is, "I'm afraid to check my breasts because I don't understand what I'm feeling. And what do I do when I find something??"
It breaks my heart that the media has convinced women to fear really owning their self-care. But this particular story was over the top for me:
My client was dealing with a breast lump (like soooo many of us: 12.5% - 14.4% of women screened for breast cancer) and it turned out to be a benign cyst (like many, many more of us: 95% - 98% of lumps found are completely benign). **
But what put my jaw on the floor, was to hear,
"They told me not to bother doing self-exam because my breasts were so lumpy anyway."
At this point I needed a moment to recover before having a conniption fit. Deep breath. Moving on.
We worked together on her breasts and I was able to assess where her lymph flow was off track (aka mapping; here's a Manual Lymphatic Mapping video++). She confirmed this was the area she had pain. After treating her breast with lymph drainage and softening the tissue, I asked her to feel for herself how her breast tissue had changed. She asked, "how do you mean?" I coached her as to what technique to use and how glands felt different than other tissue. Her response was to chuckle and say, "I can't believe I need to have someone show me how to touch my breasts. I've just been afraid to for so long."
Yeah, I teared-up a little, too. I hear a lot of incredible stories and I'm still affected every time.
The morals of this story are:
1- Some medical practitioners are not very professional (aka a$$-hats). 50% of everyone is below average. You don't need to lower yourself to their level.
2- Practice makes progress. And a little education can encourage a healthy habit. (29% increase in breast self-check – frequency and quality - with hands-on training) ***
3- You are not alone in your fear. You are not alone with your lumps and bumps. With education, women are 12-14% more likely to pro-actively discuss breast care with a loved one. ***
You are welcome to download these documents on how to do a thorough breast-self check and how to augment your breast health PHAST with breast self-massage. And here is a link to order your own affordable silicone breast self-exam model to learn what different lumps feel like in fairly realistic feeling breast tissue. Share the model with your friends! Start a study group!
Once you review these materials, if you still need help, I'm here for you. Schedule a session in person or online to optimize your self-care. YOU ARE WORTH IT. If you are not sure about that, schedule a free 15-minute phone education session and I will assure you otherwise ;-)
++ Manual Lymphatic Mapping (MLM): to assess the specific direction and quality of the superficial and deep lymph fluids
* (Joann G. Elmore, 2005)
** (CS Giess, 2012)
*** (JA Mamon, 1985)