Good Habits For Breast Health To Start In Your Twenties
It’s hardly a secret that October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month; between the legions of bucket collectors, the limited edition products all over social media, and more pink merchandise than my year five sleepover (all of which I’m a huge fan of by the way). But I think it’s important that we don’t forget what these four weeks are really all about: raising awareness and having meaningful conversations about the diagnosis and prevention of breast cancer.
Current guidelines recommend that women start having annual mammograms from the age of about 50, and depending on your family history that age might be slightly younger. But we shouldn’t wait until 50 before we start taking our breast health seriously. In my opinion, if we develop good habits now in terms of self-checks and becoming in tune with what our version of “normal” looks like, then we will be in a far better position down the track.
The good news is the New Zealand Breast Cancer Foundation agrees with me (sorry I’m an icon) and suggests that young women in their twenties (that’s us!!) should become familiar with their current breast shape, size and what they feel like. Therefore I think it would be very chic, clever and responsible if we started doing the following checks now and make it a habit for life.
The New Zealand Breast Cancer Foundation use the acronym T.L.C.
Touch. Look. Check.
An easy place to touch and feel your breasts is in the shower and using soap and water can make it a lot easier to detect lumps.
Use your right hand to feel your left breast and then your left hand to feel your right breast.
Use a firm touch with the first few fingers of your hand, keeping them flat and together. Cover the entire breast from top to bottom, side to side — from your collarbone to the top of your ribcage, and from your armpit to your cleavage.
A lump can feel like a pea or marble trapped under the skin. However there are many variations on this, and while most lumps aren’t cancer, it’s important to get a lump that’s still there after a couple of weeks checked by your doctor.
Once you get out of the shower, look in the mirror and see if there are any noticeable changes to the appearance of your breasts. The NZBCF say that you’re looking for any physical change to the breast, skin or nipple, and this might be in the form of discharge, an inverted nipple, dimples or dents around the breast, or an orange-peel like skin.
Lastly, make sure you have a GP that you inherently trust. Someone that takes your worries seriously and that you feel comfortable raising any concerns with. The beauty of having a GP that knows you well is that they will also know what your “normal” looks like.
I would be proud to think that every young woman who reads The Twenties Club adopts this practice of TLC. Maybe you do it once a week or once a fortnight in the shower. That’s perfect. Because if you’re willing to spend a hard earned pay cheque on new Lonely lingerie (and quite frankly you should) then you should be willing to extend the same gesture of self-love to the breasts that get to wear it.