Remember your role in self-examination can help diagnose breast cancer. Your monthly self-examination should not take the place of your annual well-woman checkup, but it should be performed in addition to in order to improve your chances of an early breast cancer diagnosis, treatment and cure
- Stand with your shoulders straight and your arms by your side. Look at your breast in the mirror. You are looking for any changes in your breast (size, color, shape, etc.).
- Next, raise your arms and look for the same changes.
- While you are looking at the mirror, check for any signs of discharge (fluid) coming out of one or both nipples. The discharge could be a watery, milky or yellow fluid or possibly blood.
- Next, examine your breasts while lying down, using your right hand to feel your left breast and your left hand to feel your right breast. Use a firm, smooth touch with the first few finger pads of your hand, keeping the fingers flat and together. Use a circular motion, about the size of a quarter. Examine the entire breast area, including your armpit and cleavage.
- Lastly, feel your breasts while you are standing or sitting. For some women it is easiest to examine their breasts while in the shower. Cover your entire breast, using the same hand motion described in step 4.
THE STAGES OF BREAST CANCER IS BASED ON FOUR CHARACTERISTICS
Stages of Breast Cancer
- What is the size of the cancer?
- Is the cancer invasive or non-invasive?
- Is the cancer in the lymph nodes?
- Has the cancer spread beyond the breast to other parts of the body?
Understanding the stages of breast cancer is one of the most important factors in evaluating and determining treatment options. Staging cancer may involve blood tests and other tests. These are the stages of breast cancer:
Stage 0-There is no evidence of cancer cells spreading out of the part of the breast in which they started or of getting through to or invading neighboring normal tissue.
Stage I-The tumor measures up to 2 centimeters and no lymph nodes are involved.
Stage II-(Invasive Breast Cancer) The tumor measures between 2 to 5 centimeters, or the cancer has spread to the lymph nodes under the arm on the same side as the breast cancer.
Stage III-(Locally Advanced Breast Cancer) The tumor in the breast is more than 2 inches in diameter across and the cancer is extensive in the underarm lymph nodes or has spread to other lymph nodes or tissues near the breast.’
Stage IV-(Metastatic Breast Cancer) The cancer has spread beyond the breast, underarm and internal mammary lymph nodes to other parts of the body near to or distant from the breast.
Recurrent Cancer-The disease has returned in spite of initial treatment.
MIND, BODY, SPIRIT
Overall Health & Wellness
Taking care of your mental health is just as important as taking care of your physical health when it comes to preventing any illness, including breast cancer. If you have been recently diagnosed or know someone who has been diagnosed it’s extremely important to maintain a positive spirit during your diagnosis.
7 Ways to Maintain a Healthy Mind
Talk to someone you can trust about how you feel.
Get plenty of sleep.
Eat a healthy and nutritious diet.
Find joy in helping others; get involved within your community.
Treat yourself and others with kindness.
Make time to do the things you love.
Your body will undoubtedly go through many changes, and at time will maybe even feel foreign to you. Staying healthy and making wise nutritional decisions, will help you feel more like yourself throughout your diagnosis. Check out our Healthy Grocery List and healthy recipes to maintain a well-balanced diet. Making good nutritional choices is one of the best defenses against any illness, along with breast cancer.
Healthy Nutritional Tips & Tricks
Eat your vegetables! At least 2/3 of your plate should consist of fresh vegetables
Start your day with a whole grain cereal
Add Asparagus, Beans, or Sunflower seeds to your salad for additional Folate. Low folate intakes have been positively associated with several different cancer types.
Indulge in tomatoes. Tomatoes contain lycopene, which has been linked to reducing cancerous cells.
Drink Green Tea. Green tea consumption has been proven to slow development of cancer cells.
Limit or eliminate your alcohol intake, as alcohol can increase your risk for breast cancer.
Make your exercise a social event and invite your friends.
Switch up your workout routine, to avoid getting stuck in a rut.
Make a schedule and stick to it to ensure that you are exercising regularly.
Keep an exercise journal or goal sheet to document your progress.
Reward yourself for all of the hard work you put in.
Be flexible and listen to your body. It’s ok to take a break when you need one.
BEING A SUPPORT SYSTEM
Breast Cancer Support Systems
Everyone handles a breast cancer diagnosis differently, but it is important to be as supportive as possible. It may be difficult for a loved one to ask for help or even talk about their diagnosis. Offering practical help is the best way to make things easier on your loved one.
Educate yourself on their cancer diagnosis.
Support their decisions when it comes to treatment.
Include them in normal daily activities, to help keep their sense of normalcy.
Prepare meals for days when they are not feeling well.
Run errands for them and even pick up their prescriptions.
Send a thoughtful Card of Hope.