February edition / By Camilla / February 9, 2023
Recently a yoga student reached out to me, wanting to start doing yoga therapy sessions as she has just been diagnosed with breast cancer.
In my job as a yoga therapist, requests like this are fairly common, and when I worked as a nurse I got used to meet people going through illness, you can say it became part of my daily life. But still, every time it happens, I am humbly reminded how quickly life as we know it, can change.
Breast cancer is one of the most common forms of cancer that we women are diagnosed with. We are bound to encounter it, either for ourselves, or in our circle of friends. It’s not just women who get it though, men do too. It is way less common for men but since we all have breasts, and breast tissue, we are all at risk so to speak.
This newsletter is not about cancer, it is about how most of us, so often, like the ostrich, seem to put our ‘head in the sand’, hoping that things will not happen, or that things magically will go away. I’m writing this reminder to us all, to take matters into our own hands, literally!
Fear is often the reason
Most of us don’t like to think about it. The risk of cancer. Despite the fact that most people today diagnosed with cancer, will survive, it most definitely feels like a stopper of life. The fear is real.
This quote is what this newsletter is all about. To act despite us being afraid, to be courageous enough to start proactively look for signs of ‘abnormal’ change. Keep reading and I will explain what I mean by that.
Early detection, and early diagnosis, of (breast) cancer increases the chance of survival hugely. A little addition, this is also very much the same for testicular cancer, so keep reading all you men as well. And share this newsletter, or at least the message with your loved ones. If you have kids, teach them this important skill, and mindset of being courageous enough to act, despite being afraid.
‘Know your lemons’
Was (Is) a campaign to detect breast cancer, launched in the UK some years ago. I had never heard of it, to be honest, until 1-2 years ago, but it is such a good one (and the images of the different lemons are surprisingly helpful).
Basically it’s about self-examination. To get to know ‘your lemons’ so that you can detect early on if/when, there is a change. The images of the lemons might not be accurate when it comes to the testicles, but the concept of regular examination is.
Is it not fascinating, how come we all brush our teeth twice a day (at least most of us LOL) as a prevention from developing bad breath and holes in our teeth, but we don’t regularly examine our breasts (testicles) as a way to detect early on signs of cancer, and potentially save our life?!
Regardless of why we don’t do it, I hope these words can be a good reminder to start doing it. To start examining yourself regularly, so that you know earlier, rather than later, if there is a change.
It does not have to be too complicated. There are lots of guides on how to do it, if you want guidance. My suggestion though is to just start. Start today, or by the very latest, tomorrow. In the shower is a good place, or in front of the bathroom mirror.
Start by gently going through the tissues of your breasts/testicles, doing both at the same time. Left hand examines the left, right hand the right one. Curiously let your fingers get to know how the tissue ‘inside’ feel. When checking your breasts, also examine the armpit (area of lymph nodes), and check the groin (area of lymph nodes) when doing the testicles.
Remember that the female breast tissue changes with the monthly cycle, which is normal, so it will feel different from week to week.
What is important, is to get to know your breasts/testicles, and how they normally feel. That way you can check for differences between the left and the right, and notice if there is a change.
Be brave, and do it despite the risk of detecting something. If there is something to detect, it is much better to detect it early on, rather than not. Do your check at least once a week.
Contact your general practitioner if you suspect/have noticed changes.