That said, I'm in my 30's and several of my high school and college classmates have been diagnosed with breast cancer in the past month. Most are women. Notice how I said most. How are we OLD ENOUGH for this to be the battle on our doorsteps already? This is what I found myself thinking, and I'm sure I wasn't alone in that thinking amongst my classmates!
As we have rallied behind our friends while they posted on facebook about their diagnostic procedures, their chemo treatments, their preemptive hair shaving, their surgeries, and their recoveries, it has all felt other worldly to me. But I can never again say that I didn't know that it was possible to get breast cancer so young.
And neither can you, if you are reading this. Stop thinking of yourself in a bubble of immunity and start thinking about what constitutes good breast health and good preventive care. There are so many things you can do on a daily basis to facilitate good breast health. Diet is most certainly a factor, as is reproductive health (I'm looking at you birth control, you class-1 carcinogen, you!)
Here's an article that talks about a few ways to be mindful about breast health: http://verilymag.com/2014/10/breast-cancer-good-breast-health-tips
Also, remember that you shouldn't be sleeping in a bra. Especially not an underwire! You breasts are connected to your lymphatic system and there is movement of lymph fluid in and out of the breast all day (and night) long. There needs to be time when that fluid can freely travel in and out of the breast tissue. So don't sleep in your underwire bra. Let the ladies rest un-tethered while you sleep, ok? In fact, take off that bra as soon as possible after work and commit to not wearing it at home whenever possible.
And pay attention to any change in breast size and shape! Pain, discharge from the nipple, rashes and any kind of discoloration - all of these are important things to notice. If you couldn't answer a question about these things right now, you aren't paying enough attention to your breasts on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis. Also, breast tissue is inherently bumpy (and very sensitive to hormonal changes each month), but you aren't supposed to have hard lumps in the breast or under your arms. Yes, your armpits have breast tissue in them! Talk to your doctor if you notice a change. It's better to have them allay your fears quickly than to ignore something that could be significant.
And remember, even though mammograms aren't really indicated for women until they reach 40 (save for those with family history of breast disease), you can keep up with those breast self exams each month and know your baseline and find changes very quickly with that. CrMS charters do this on CD7 every month, because of ovarian quiescence. If you want to learn more about what that is, why we do it, and all the other how's and why's - contact me and I'll be happy to teach you how to chart and monitor your breast health.
photo background: Clare Owen