Friday, September 30, 2011

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month

By Diane Forrest, RN

Think Pink!
What do you think of when you see a pink ribbon or hear the name Susan G. Komen?  I don't know about you, but I think of breast cancer.  In fact the people who are on this team could do some serious advertising for all sorts of things.   The pink ribbon is as famous as the M for McDonalds, the Colonel for KFC, and the little dog for Taco Bell.  The current motto for breast cancer awareness is "Race for a Cure".  So who is Susan G. Komen?

Susan Goodman, later Susan Goodman Komen, was born in 1943 in Peoria, Illinois, and was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 33. She died three years later, at the age of 36, in 1980. Komen's younger sister, Nancy Goodman Brinker, who felt that Susan's outcome might have been better if patients knew more about cancer and its treatment, made a promise to her sister that she would do everything she could to end breast cancer. To fulfill that promise, Brinker founded the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation in Komen's memory in 1982.

Their philosophy is to educate the population.  The majority of the donations raised goes to education.  In my opinion with all the information that is available, it may be time to redirect some of those fund into the research of breast cancer to actually find a cure, however, since Im not in charge, and nobody asked for my opinion, I will do what I can to continue to make you aware of breast Cancer, because in case you don't know by now, October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

You may think that this is only for the ladies, but men can also get breast cancer.  Today I would like to teach you how to perform a self-breast exam.  These should be performed every month, and a annual mammogram each year by the age of 40.  However, if there is a history of breast cancer in your family, you may want to start earlier.  You can perform the self-breast exam at any age, but check with your doctor to see when to begin mammograms.

To perform a self-breast exam the first thing to do is pick a date.  Your exams will need to be performed at the same time each month.  Pick a date that is easy to remember, some suggest using your birthday date, or any number that is familiar.
  • Next, they need to be performed after showering.
  • Lay flat on your bed, place one arm under your head.
  • With your free hand, place your first three fingers on your breast, at the areola.
  • Press down, and in a circular motion, move your fingers around the areola.
  • When that area has been inspected, continue to inch down your breast, inspecting in the same fashion, until you reach the base of your breast, against your chest.
  • When the breast has been inspected, check under the arm for the lymph nodes.
  • Repeat this process with the other side.


After examining both breasts, with your thumb and forefinger, squeeze the nipple to observe any fluid that may be discharged.

During this procedure, if you notice any lumps or nodules stop palpating and make arrangements to see your doctor.  Some other signs of breast cancer include:
  • Any new, hard lump or thickening in any part of the breast
  • Change in breast size or shape
  • Dimpling or puckering of the skin
  • Swelling, redness or warmth that does not go away
  • Pain in one spot that does not vary with your monthly cycle
  • Pulling in of the nipple
  • Nipple discharge that starts suddenly and appears only in one breast
  • An itchy, sore or scaling area on one nipple


Finding a lump or change in your breast does not necessarily mean you have breast cancer.  However, these need to be checked by a physician as soon as possible.

For more information visit this site:  http://ww5.komen.org/AboutUs/AboutUs.html

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