How often do you really check you boobs? Be honest. Did you do it once because somebody you know happened to mention it, and then never did it again? Or do you think about doing it but don’t know where to start? It’s okay, not many of us are great in this area, but it’s so, so important that we get better at it.
Because, did you know that breast cancer now affects 1 in 8 women in the UK? According to research done by the brilliant breast cancer awareness charity CoppaFeel! survival rates are severely lagging compared to other developed countries. CoppaFeel! then tries to raise awareness and introduce new ways of reminding women to check their boobs. Their latest #brahijack campaign is trying to involve the lingerie industry, by getting them to add labels with breast check reminders in with the care labels. You can also sign up for text message reminders to check your boobs, which I think is such a simple but effective idea! They want women to make checking their breasts a normal part of their daily routine.
It’s actually really easy! Since becoming a bra fitter and meeting so many different women, including women who are going through or have gone through the horrific ordeals associated with breast cancer, I’ve become so much more aware of my own boobs. I’m always touching them! It probably also helps that I have a massive lingerie collection, and at least once a week I have a try on session just for my own entertainment, which is a good opportunity to coppa feel at myself and remind myself of what my breasts look and feel like. It’s also super important to remember that there isn’t just one symptom of breast cancer. Most people associate it with lumps, and while this is something to be very aware of, there are many other changes to look out for. Here’s a little illustration from CoppaFeel! which highlights other things you should be looking out for:
How are you supposed to check your boobs though? Just touch them! Get all up in them as much as you can, and learn what the breast tissue inside feels like. Look at them in the mirror so you get to know the shape of them, how your skin looks and the colour of your nipples so it becomes easier to identify any change. Also, check out this fun video with CoppaFeel! patron Greg James.
Thankfully, I’ve become more educated in this area in the last year or so (thanks in part to seeing those little CoppaFeel! labels in bras), so when I started having issues with my nipples a couple of months ago, I knew it was worth a visit to the GP. I’d noticed my nipples were extremely itchy and dry, and I was worried the dryness could be perceived as crustiness and therefore an indicator of something more concerning. Obviously, before I went to the doctor I googled my symptoms (which you should never ever ever do because it will always tell you you’re dying a slow and painful death!!) and discovered something called Paget’s disease of the nipple, which is a form of breast cancer. I was slightly nervous that the GP would brush me off but she did a quick breast exam and assured me that there was nothing to worry about. It turned out I had developed some eczema on my nipples which is quite common in people who already suffer from eczema or dermatitis (which I do). Some prescription eczema cream was all I needed to clear it up, but I still check my boobs all the time for any other changes.
If you’re worried about something, please just make an appointment to see your GP. Anything to do with personal women’s health can be embarrassing, but it’s so important. And if your doctor doesn’t take you seriously or makes you feel silly, make an appointment with a different one! Your health is too precious.