That little pink ribbon
We have all seen it every year in October. While the significance of October is different for each of us, it’s important to continue to remember the roots and goals of Pink October.
‘Pink Month’ or ‘Breast Cancer Awareness Month’ is all about creating continued awareness about Breast Cancer - supporting and encouraging people to educate themselves about the disease. It began in the late 90’s with the aim to promote screening and prevention of the disease, support people diagnosed with breast cancer and encourage open conversation about breast cancer.
People around the world adopt the pink color and pledge to raise awareness about breast health and the importance of early detection of breast cancer. It’s a good reminder to learn more about breast cancer for you and those you love. The Pink Ribbon symbolizes bravery in the face of breast cancer, optimism for the future, and the altruism of individuals as well as the organizations who against all odds fight the disease.
We all know this, but...
Breast cancer is a disease in which cells in the breast grow out of control. It can occur in either one or both the breasts in both female and male population. While each case of breast cancer usually has an unknown origin, many of the potential causes have been determined over years of research.
Where do I start?
There is a combination of risk factors that can cause breast cancer ranging from age, genetics inherited from families to lifestyle choices like poor diet, obesity, exposure to toxins & chemicals among others. It’s important to talk to your doctor about the risks and get yourself screened.
What do I look out for?
The symptoms for breast cancer vary from person to person. But there are some common signs and symptoms of breast cancer that should be considered on priority:
- Swelling of the breast or general pain in any of the breast/nipple area.
- Redness or skin changes in one or both breast / nipple area.
- Discharge from nipple other than breast milk, including blood.
- Any change in the shape, size, or color of the breast.
- New nodes and lumps felt inside / on the breast or underarm (armpit).
- Flaking or peeling of the nipple skin or the breast.
- Irritation or itching on one or both breasts.
- Nipple that turns inward.
What can I do?
Breast cancer screening, regular breast self-exams, an annual check, and mammograms by your doctor, are important tools to increase the odds of early detection, when cancers may be more treatable.
An at-home self-exam is a convenient tool that you can start accommodating at any age as part of your screening process.
- Examine your breasts in front of a mirror with your hands on your hips. Look for any visual distortions like redness, swelling, dimpling, puckering, or bulging of the skin. Take care to note for soreness or if your nipples have changed position or the occurrence of an inverted nipple.
- Raise your arms and look for the same changes.
- Look for any signs of fluids coming out of one or both nipples (this could be a watery, milky, or yellow fluid or blood).
- Feel for breast lumps while lying down. Use a firm, smooth touch with the first few finger pads of your hand. Press down with your fingers and move them in small circular motions. Follow the pattern and cover the entire breast.
- Feel your breasts for lumps while standing or sitting.
Now that you know, what can you do?
Spread the word because networks are powerful tools to reach more women and make sure they have the knowledge and access to screening, support, and care. It’s important to normalize and encourage an open conversation about breast cancer so we learn more and do more to increase survival rates.
So, join the conversation. Not just for October, but beyond as well.
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