This month has not been an easy month for me. Work has been extremely difficult – to the extent of having an old man peeing next to my counter. This week the pharmacy community has lost an amazing pharmacist and an amazing young woman to a tragic car accident apart from all the other things going on, which I would rather not get into. When October started I wanted to write an article about breast cancer not only because its breast cancer awareness month but also because as a pharmacist I want to remind everyone how important it is to take care of yourself.
Boobs – everyone has them (yes both men and women) and since we all have them we all need to take care of them. Some are too big, some too small and some perky; some are full of silicon; some can reach the persons knees but whatever their state we need to take good care of those pumpkins (some Halloween humour). Thank god we only have 2 of them to worry about so its easier to check them regularly and make sure they are healthy.
Ok right now you are saying is she really trying to make this a funny post – hasn’t she lost anyone to this terrible disease? Its precisely because I have lost that I am using humour. Humour is always the best medicine to anything and it will help us learn as well. I lost my grandmother and one of my closest friends who died almost 5 years ago at the age of 27 to breast cancer – far too young . Apart from the fact that almost every other week I hear of a patient of mine or relative of a patient of mine who has been diagnosed. The only way we will stop loosing amazing people to this disease to empower ourselves with knowledge. So give your TaTa’s some TLC regularly and together we will reduce the mortality from this case. And all this goes also for men – so ladies encourage your husbands/boyfriends/boy toys/ sons to check themselves as well because even though its less common in Men it can still happen. So if you have boobs and have reached the age of 20 start performing self checks.
Heres a very short simple guide for all of you to follow:
1. Mirror Mirror: Look in the mirror and see what you’ve got going on. Put your hands over your head, and then on your hips. Front boob and side boob are created equal, so be sure to include both.
2. Mini Massage: Next, keep looking in the mirror and put one hand behind your head. Now, place three fingers to your breast and check for anything that strikes you as weird or not your “normal”.
3. Up & Down: Move your three fingers in small circles with different levels of pressure. Choose easy, medium and then hard while walking your fingers to the next area, instead of lifting them off your boobies.
4. Your Pits: Cover your entire breast up and down and into the armpit area, finishing inside your armpit. Leave no breast area unchecked! Side boobs are boobies, too. Spend extra time in your pits where your lymphatic system lives and where many breast cancers develop—they may need extra circle massage love.
5. Squeeze: Lastly, squeeze each nipple. If there is any discharge or pain, see a doctor right away.
We in Malta are lucky the government has a great screening process in place however you need to do your part every year. Self examination; regular visits to your gynaecologist and make sure you know your breasts – what they look and feel like so if any change occurs you will realise immediately. Once you turn 30 ask your doctor for an ultrasound every 2 years. And once you turn 40 discuss mammograms with your doctors.
Please keep in mind that not every symptom or sign necessarily means you have breast cancer. There are many things that can cause changes such has cysts; fibroids; infection so please do not panic every time you notice something. However, Having a symptom or sign checked out by a medical professional, will NEVER translate into a waste of time.
For those who would like to know the Malta National Health Screening Centre administers the breast and the colorectal screening programmes for the Maltese islands is located in Valletta Address: 17,25 Lascaris Wharf, Valletta. Telephone Number: 21227470/1
If you have any worry visit your Gynaecologist; GP; local Health centre or pharmacist who will refer you to the right place to get yourself checked out