Walking the Walk
As you can imagine, I’m all about reminding women to do a monthly self-exam these days. Every time I tell my story to someone new, I always end with an entreaty to be vigilant about doing self-exams.
I confess, however, that I am not doing them.
I hope that by admitting that here I will be forced to walk the walk, rather than just talk the talk. It can mean the difference between life and death, so why is it so hard for us to do it? For me, I think that it is fear as much as anything else. I don’t want to find another lump, because if I do there is a high probability that it will be more breast cancer. I think that subconsciously I hope that if I don’t know about it I won’t have to deal with it. It’s the ostrich approach, and it’s the wrong one.
I wasn’t so great about doing self-exams before I had breast cancer, for the same reason. I didn’t
ever always think about it when it was convenient, and when I did remember to do it I always felt a little foolish. After all, how in the world was I supposed to know what to look for? And if I did find something, would I know what to do next? But mostly,I was afraid to find something.
But everything you read about breast cancer says that the early detection is the key, and I am living proof of that. I found the lump in my breast myself. Not because I did a breast self-exam (at the time that I found it, I hadn’t done one for 8 or 9 months), but because I was in the right position at the right moment and because my pajama top was bothering me. What if I had decided not to read that night? What if I hadn’t tried to adjust my top? Who knows when or if I would have discovered the lump. And maybe the next time I remembered to do a self-exam or to schedule a mammogram, my cancer—a very aggressive form of breast cancer—would have spread to another part of my body.
This thought scares me….does it scare you, too? I hope so. I hope it scares you enough to remember to do a self-exam tonight!
And for the record, when I did find something I suddenly knew what I was looking for and I knew what to do.
In order to help you and me remember to do this, I am going to steal a reminder from Mary at Almost Somewhat Positive. She has designated the 15th of each month as Frisk the 15th in order to remind women to do their self-exams. I will do my best to remind you to feel your boobies each month on the 15th by posting a reminder. Will you please remind me if I forget?
Keep in mind that you don’t have to have a lump to have breast cancer, either. If you notice any abnormal changes in your breasts, call your doctor. And make sure that you also schedule an annual mammogram.
If you need a little help remembering, why not order a free waterproof breast self-exam card for your shower from Susan G. Komen for the Cure (one per household)? You can also print the information out on paper here.