How to Check your Titties

October 4, 2018northernirishgirlonline

Hey, all you beautiful, sexy people,

October is Breast Cancer Awareness month, and I’m sure there is not one person in the entire world who hasn’t felt the impact the big C has had, whether it be on their family, their friends or themselves. Cancer is a cunt and it’s absolutely everywhere, there is also so much bullshit out there about cancer, from eating a certain food to sniffing a particular scent for a long period of time will cause you to develop cancer. It’s getting to the point now where your probably best to not leave your bedroom, there is so much fear mongering out there.

That being said, though, Breast Cancer is a big killer and is the most common cancer in the U.K. In this post, I’m going to explain what breast cancer is, the signs to look out for, where to go to for advice if you think you may have cancer, the treatments involved and things you should be doing to check yourself, daily.

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What is Breast Cancer?

The short version is, breast cancer is a disease that forms when the cells in the breast begin to grow out of control. These cells form into a tumour that can be seen on an X-Ray or felt as a lump or bump. 

A tumour is malignant (cancer) if the cells can grow into surrounding tissues or spread (metastasize) to distant areas of the body.

What are the main risks of developing breast cancer?

  • Being a woman –  I know as if we don’t have enough to contend with, now the very womanhood we hold dear is one of the biggest risk factors of developing breast cancer. 99% of breast cancer cases in the U.K. are women.
  • Age – more than 80% of breast cancer diagnosis’ occur in women over the age of 50, this is partially why mammograms have an age limit and why they focus on women between the ages of 50 to 70, they need to be screened every 3 years. Some areas of England have extended that to the ages of 47 to 73.
  • Family history – this is less common, but is nevertheless important. Around 5% of people diagnosed with breast cancer inherited the faulty BRCA1 or BRCA2 genes

What is the BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene and how do I get checked for it?

BRCA1 and BRCA2 are two examples of genes that raise your cancer risk if they become altered. Having a variant BRCA gene greatly increases a woman’s chance of developing breast cancer and ovarian cancer. This was the reason Angelina Jolie had preventative breast cancer surgery, followed by ovarian cancer surgery. They also increase a man’s chance of developing male breast cancer and prostate cancer. 

BRCA genes are not the only cancer risk genes. Researchers recently identified more than 100 new gene variants associated with an increased risk of breast, prostate and ovarian cancer. Individually, these new gene variants only slightly increase the risk of cancer, but a combination could mean a high risk overall.

If you or your partner have a high-risk cancer gene, such as an altered version of BRCA1, it can be passed on to any children you have. 

Speak to your GP if cancer runs in your family and you’re worried you may get it too. They may refer you to a local genetics service for an NHS genetic test, which will tell you if you have inherited one of the cancer risk genes. 

This type of testing is known as predictive genetic testing. It’s “predictive” because a positive result means you have a greatly increased risk of developing cancer. It doesn’t mean you have cancer or are definitely going to develop it.

You may be eligible for this NHS test if the faulty gene has already been identified in one of your relatives, or if there is a strong family history of cancer in your family.  For the non-U.K readers please contact your local doctor’s office who can provide you with more information on testing and where it can be done.

What does testing involve?

There are usually 2 steps to genetic testing:

  1. A relative with cancer has a diagnostic blood test to see if they have a cancer risk gene (this must normally happen before any healthy relatives are tested). Their result will be ready 4 to 8 weeks later.
  2. If your relative’s test is positive, you can have the predictive genetic test to see if you have the same faulty gene. Your GP will refer you to your local genetics service for the blood test (you’ll need a copy of your relative’s test results). The result will take up to 2 weeks to come through after a blood sample is taken, but this may not happen at your first appointment. This test is fully predictive as a “clear” negative test, which will mean you have not inherited the family high risk of cancer.

How do I check my boobies and when?

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Photo Credit to National Breast Cancer Foundation 

I’ll be honest for me, I check every few days in the shower.

Using the pads of your fingers (that’s the opposite side of your nails), move around your entire breast in a circular motion moving from the outside to the inside, check the entire breast area, do not forget your armpit area, too. It’s very important to check your armpits (axilla) as that is one of the many areas where your lymphatic nodes (lymph nodes) are.

Do this with both boobs and both armpits, look for any lump, thickening, or hardened knot. 

I recommend also checking yourself in front of a mirror. A way to do this is to visually inspect your boobs with your arms at your sides.

Once you’ve done that raise your arms overhead, look for any changes in colouring, contour (shape) of the breast so indents for example (see picture below), any weird swelling or dimpling of the skin, or ANY changes at all to your nipples. That includes colour, shape if they are leaking and you are not pregnant or breastfeeding gets to your local GP immediately, or better still your local A&E and demand a mammogram. I’ve included a range of pictures below of other things you need to look out for.

Next, rest your palms on your hips and press firmly to flex your chest muscles. Left and right boobies will not exactly match, few women’s boobies do, so look for any dimpling, puckering, or changes, particularly on one side. 

Screen Shot 2018-10-04 at 16.23.59

images
Full Credit to the amazing @OfNoSpecialType (Twitter handle go send her some love)

Another way to check yourself is by lying down, the booby tissue will spread out evenly along the chest wall, or if you’re well endowed they’ll spread out over your chest wall and into your fucking armpits because you know, where else will they go?

Place a pillow under your right shoulder and put your arm behind your head. Use the left hand and move the pads of your fingers (I wrote gingers here, originally and had to take a moment to compose myself) around your right booby gently in small circular motions similar to the way I mentioned earlier, go over the entire boob and armpit area. Repeat this whole process on your left side. Lastly, lightly, but firmly squeeze both nipples (not at the same time) to check for any discharge or lumps.

 

What should I do if I find a lump or bump?

Firstly, DO NOT PANIC. Around eight out of ten lumps, women or men may feel in their boobs are benign (non-cancerous). A benign lump could be anything from a hyperactive breast gland to a water-filled sac (cyst). No matter what you feel, if it’s not normal or doesn’t feel right to you make an urgent appointment to see your GP or Practice Nurse as soon as possible.

What other signs or symptoms should I be on the lookout for?

As I mentioned above other signs or symptoms you should look are for is as follows:- 

  • Indentations
  • Skin erosions (not just around the nipples)
  • Lumps/bumps
  • Change of shape or size
  • Leaking nipples
  • Abnormal dimpling 

I cannot stress enough how important it is to check yourself and get yourself checked. I’ve mentioned to past partners and my current partner that they also keep an eye on my boobs and if they feel any changes then to notify me of it immediately, even if it does spoil the mood. It’s so important to me that my partner knows how to check and what to look out for.

See below photo for further signs to look out for.

Screen Shot 2018-10-04 at 16.29.05
Full photo credit to knowyourlemons.com

Where should I go for advice if I think I may have cancer?

If you feel a lump or bump, please make an appointment with your GP. Do not just jump on Google and try to self-diagnose yourself. It’s so important to get it checked no matter how scared you are. The quicker you go and get checked the quicker you get your results and hopefully they’ll be all clear.

This can be crucial in providing more effective treatment and, ultimately, saving your life, I’m a Taurus Screen Shot 2018-10-04 at 17.17.30 and I’m stubborn as fuck especially when it comes to going to my GP about ailments, my besties will probably all screaming “YES YOU FUCKING ARE!” right now reading this, but they know I don’t play when it comes to my melons or my ovaries.

A Breast Cancer Care survey found a third (33%) of women aren’t regularly checking. A fifth (20%) say it’s because they don’t know how to check their girls. This made me so emotional reading this because that could be any one of my friends or me, the pictures below is the actual look of what a third of women may look like and the photo beside it is the image of what a fifth of women may look like for perspective.

Screen Shot 2018-10-04 at 17.21.36
What 1/3 of women looks like
1-in-5-women-hi
What 1/5 of women looks like

I’ve found out I have breast cancer, where can I go for support and guidance?

  • Breast cancer is the most common cancer in the UK, one person is diagnosed every 10 minutes.
  • 1 in 8 women in the UK will develop breast cancer in their lifetime.
  • This Breast Cancer Awareness Month around 5,000 people will be diagnosed.
  • Around 2,200 women in the UK are diagnosed aged 39 or under, or 4% of all cases.
  • A Breast Cancer Care survey found just over half (53%) of younger women diagnosed with breast cancer have no discussion with healthcare professionals about fertility preservation options, which include freezing embryos or eggs.

If unfortunately, you have had a mammogram and further tests such as a biopsy, then there are so many support networks for you. YOU ARE NOT ALONE, the help and support groups are there if you need them. I have created a list at the bottom of this post for people living in the U.K, Northern Ireland, Ireland, U.S.A and Canada

Please note, the sites or telephone numbers I have included below is not all of them, just some. There are other websites you can use and other support groups available to you.

If you do not live in any of these countries then my best advice to you is to go to your doctor’s office or health centre and check for leaflets for further information.

Northern Ireland  1200px-Ulster_Banner.svg

Antrim Support Group
Telephone: 028 9442 4874

Ballymena Support Group
Freephone: 028 9066 3281

Coleraine Support Group
Freephone: 028 9442 4218

Mid Ulster Support Group
Telephone: 028 7963 2060 or 028 7963 3773

There is also Transition Support Group which offers support to women who have completed their treatment but feel isolated and insecure

Cheryl Gregg
Breast care nurse, Antrim Area Hospital, Telephone: 028 9442 4000

Elaine Heaney
Breast care nurse, Antrim Area Hospital, Telephone: 028 9442 4874

Cancer Focus NI

There is also the Cancer Survivorship

United Kingdom 1200px-Flag_of_the_United_Kingdom.svg

Marie Curie

Macmillan Cancer Support

Ireland 1861_1k

Irish Cancer Society

Marie Keating Foundation

Breast Cancer Ireland

Europa Donna Ireland

The U.S. download

Breast Cancer Support Group via National Breast Cancer.org

Susan Komen

Share Cancer Support

Canada  Flag_of_Canada_(Pantone).svg

Canadian Cancer Society

Canada Breast Cancer Support

What about my family, is there any support for them?

Macmillan in Northern Ireland, Ireland and the U.K are brilliant for providing to support whether it’s getting to grips with the initial diagnosis, to end of life care, how to manage their family members wishes and so much more. My auntie went to a hospice run by Macmillan towards the end of her battle with cancer and I just remember them being amazing with her and amazing with us.

I found the Cancer Support Community for the USA.

In Canada, there is: Canadian Cancer Society

What treatments are involved if I have breast cancer?

If you have cancer you should be assigned to a multidisciplinary team (MDT) which is a team of medical specialists who will work together to provide you with the best treatment and care.

The main treatments for breast cancer on the NHS (U.K and Northern Ireland) are:

  • surgery
  • radiotherapy
  • chemotherapy
  • hormone therapy
  • biological therapy (targeted therapy)

You may have one of these treatments or a combination of treatments together. The type or combination of treatments you have will depend on how the cancer was diagnosed and the stage it’s at, another reason to check yourself and get checked as soon as possible.

Breast cancer diagnosed at screening may be at an early stage, but breast cancer diagnosed when you have symptoms may be at a later stage and require a different treatment. Your MDT will discuss your treatment options with you and decide on which is the most suited to you to target the cancerous cells.

When deciding what treatment is best for you, your doctors will consider:

  • The stage and grade of your cancer (how big it is and how far it’s spread)
  • Your general health
  • Whether you have experienced the menopause

You should be able to discuss your treatment with your care team at any time and ask any questions you want. Their job is to help you, but they are medical professionals so if their jargon is getting too much for you then ask them to explain in plain English/Gaelic (some parts of Ireland).

For further information on treatment and options please click to view the following websites:

What is the survival rate when diagnosed with breast cancer?

  • Northern Ireland, U.K and Ireland –  roughly 82%, struggled to find a firm statistic and the NOS (National Office of Statistics) wasn’t very helpful
  • U.S.A – 90% (an estimated 266,120 women and 2,550 men will be diagnosed with breast cancer in 2018)
  • Canada – 85% (this is only in women. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find any statistics on men when doing my research).

Please be aware that survival rates depend on how early the cancer was found, the stage the cancer was at, and other information such as age, health and so on are taken into consideration.

An estimated 691,000 are alive in the UK after a diagnosis of breast cancer. This is predicted to rise to 840,000 in 2020. For many, the overwhelming emotional and physical effects of the disease can be longer-lasting than cancer itself. 

A Breast Cancer Care survey found 1 in 4 women (26%) found the end of treatment the hardest part of breast cancer and only 1 in 10 (10%) said they felt positive and ready to move on when they were discharged from hospital treatment. More than half (53%) struggled with anxiety at the end of treatment and nearly a third (31%) with depression. 

1278_Breast_Cancer_Male.jpg
Credit to Virtual Medical Centre

I’m a man, what should I look out for?

  • Breast cancer in men is very rare with 370 reported new cases in the U.K each year, compared to 55,000 new cases in women. 
  • Three quarters (75%) of male breast cancer deaths in the U.K. are in men aged 65 and over. 
  • A Breast Cancer Care survey found that nearly three-quarters (73%) of men don’t check their chests for any signs or symptoms of breast cancer, the same number of men are aware they can get that disease.

When I read that my automatic reaction was “Well, why don’t you fucking check, then? Don’t be a dick!” Again, I’ve always been that girlfriend, fuck buddy, friend, and now wife that would check her partners’ chests and boy parts for anything.

You don’t need to make a big deal out of it, I never have. I’ve never once said to my partner’s that I was checking for any unusual lumps or bumps when I was around those areas, but it’s always in the back of my mind to check while I’m in that region. It’s so fucking important, I cannot stress how important it is and it’s never, ever talked about because for some reason there is this weird stigma about men developing breast cancer. 

It blows my mind and worries me because it’s not our milk ducts that develop cancer. It’s the lymph nodes or cells/tissue which men have, too. Lads, don’t be eejit’s, check your bits (I don’t just mean your balls, considering this is a breast cancer awareness post), get your partner to check your bits. It doesn’t have to be awkward, I’ve never made it awkward for anyone, as far as I am aware. 

The most common symptom is a lump. According to my research, this is often painless and is usually close to the nipple, because most of the breast tissue in men is beneath the nipple. However, lumps can also occur away from the nipple.

Other symptoms of male breast cancer include:

  • liquid (sometimes called discharge) that comes from the nipple without squeezing, often blood-stained
  • a tender or inverted (pulled in) nipple
  • ulcers (sores) on the chest or nipple area
  • swelling of the chest area and occasionally the lymph nodes (glands) under the arm

Men’s breast tissue can also become enlarged because of a benign (not cancer) condition called gynecomastia.

If you notice a change to your breast tissue or nipple, see your GP as soon as you can. The sooner breast cancer is diagnosed and treated, the better the outcome may be.

More information you should know, lads

The exact causes of breast cancer in men are not fully understood, but certain factors may increase the risk. These include being older and having a significant family history of breast cancer.

If you have any symptoms of breast cancer, your GP will refer you to a breast clinic for further tests. 

Treatment for breast cancer may involve surgery, hormone therapy, radiotherapy, and sometimes chemotherapy and targeted therapy. These treatments may be given alone or in combination. So, practically the same as breast cancer in women. There will also be an MDT assigned and they will talk you through your options and discuss support options.

Being diagnosed with breast cancer and having treatment can be an extremely stressful time. Especially because breast cancer in men is so rare but like anything else, there is no reason why you can’t get in touch with the support networks I have included above because it’s just as important for men to have the support as it is with women.

For both men and women being diagnosed with breast cancer and having treatment can affect how you feel about sex and intimacy. This might be because of the side effects of some treatments, or because you’re feeling anxious or stressed about your cancer. This is totally normal, again support networks will be able to talk you through this and you are not alone in your feelings.

Because breast cancer in men is rare, less is known about the experiences of men with breast cancer. Most of the available information about breast cancer is aimed at women. It also means that most of the research into breast cancer and its treatments have been carried out in women. However, I found Macmillan had a leaflet on Understanding Breast Cancer in Men which you can download from the website, or alternatively log in to Macmillan and order them.

I want to donate money for more research into breast cancer, where can I do this?

I toyed with the idea of posting the charities, but I didn’t want anyone to think I was favouring one charity over another so if you want to donate to a charity then please Google “breast cancer charity donations” and include your country which should bring you up plenty of results.

For me, I donated £5 to Macmillan and £5 to Cancer Focus NI because they are both very close to my heart. 

Don’t forget you can also fundraise, check the links above for fundraising information. You can take part in a fun run, coffee morning, marathon, help pack shopping and lots more.

I know this is a fuck tonne of information to read, but I cannot stress enough how important it is you check yourselves. If you found this helpful then I’d love if you could share this post on your social media with friends and families to help raise as much awareness as we possibly can.

I’d love any feedback or if you want to share your stories or any additional information I might have missed you can do by commenting, below. Alternatively, if you’d rather contact me privately you can do so by clicking here.

If you liked this post, then you’ll love this one and should get a good giggle out of it.

Don’t forget to like, comment and subscribe so you know when I post.

Until next time peeps!

Stay safe and be kind.

Love,

Nicole 

xoxo

 

Comments (36)

  • cockneycountrybumpkin

    November 1, 2018 at 10:32 pm

    Thanks so much for raising awareness through this post. It is so important to get this information out there. I lost one of my oldest friends in May to breast cancer she was only in 29. Xx

    1. northernirishgirlonline

      November 2, 2018 at 3:15 pm

      Oh my goodness, she was so young 💔 I’m so sorry for your loss. Thank you for your lovely comment xx

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  • IntroducingMe

    October 28, 2018 at 9:57 pm

    I’m so happy that you’ve done a post like this! I am very breast aware (and just body aware in general) because I have a high risk of developing cancer due to my family history.

    I had a cancer scare after finding a lump in my breast, and I’ve got to say that the NHS don’t fuck around when cancer is involved. I was seen really quickly, and thankfully all clear (fatty lump).

    I had a genetic test done and I’m clear in that sense, but there is still a high chance, so I qualify for early mammograms and a preventative medication that can lower my risk if I wish.

    My muma had breast cancer, and sadly died of secondary lung cancer at age 47, so I know all too well how much cancer sucks balls.

    Keep spreading the word! I hope that this helps people feel more confident in staying breast aware ❤ xo

    1. northernirishgirlonline

      October 29, 2018 at 11:59 pm

      Oh wow hun, I’m so sorry for your loss. I’m very breast aware as I’m the same with having a high risk of developing cancer at some point so the more I know what to look for, the better! I’m so glad I did the post justice as I didn’t want to miss anything out xo

  • Tsundoku Girl

    October 28, 2018 at 9:10 pm

    What a brilliant post, Nicole! So helpful too, because I always try and remember to check but I’m not sure if I’m doing it right – am I in the right position? What am I looking for? etc. so this was hugely helpful!

    Thank you! 🙂

    Rhianna x
    http://www.tsundokugirl.com

    1. northernirishgirlonline

      October 29, 2018 at 11:57 pm

      Thank you Rihanna! xx

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  • simplydivinethoughts

    October 8, 2018 at 3:10 pm

    Thank you so much for so much important information! I try to partake in everything to do with Breast Cancer awareness ever since I lost a dear auntie of mine to this. I love your approach to this sensitive topic – even though it was a lot to read you made it very easy to follow and understand.

    Much Love,

    1. northernirishgirlonline

      October 8, 2018 at 11:20 pm

      Thank you so much for this lovely message. I’m so sorry for your loss and I’m glad I did it justice. xox

  • goodyonabudget

    October 8, 2018 at 12:12 am

    This is a really good post, well researched and all that.

  • thebitsandbobsinmybrain

    October 7, 2018 at 9:19 pm

    This is a really great post, and something I think is important for every one to know about! You’re right, cancer is a cunt! And gingers made me laugh too haha! Thank you so much for writing this…. now I’m off to check my tits! B x

    1. northernirishgirlonline

      October 8, 2018 at 11:20 pm

      Good lass! xx

  • yvonnewabai

    October 7, 2018 at 8:30 pm

    Great information! And very much needed too! Thank you for posting this. And the detail you have on here is amazing.

    Yvonne Wabai | https://yvonnewairimuwabai.weebly.com

  • Eline @Lovely Audiobooks

    October 7, 2018 at 8:30 pm

    A great post again, Nicole! So informative and helpful and I love the way you write!

    1. northernirishgirlonline

      October 8, 2018 at 11:20 pm

      Thank you Eline!

    2. northernirishgirlonline

      October 8, 2018 at 11:22 pm

      Thank you Eline! xx

  • Emily Aagaard

    October 7, 2018 at 5:41 pm

    This is an amazing post! So rich and informative, thank you so much for sharing such important info!

    Emily Aagaard // https://www.emilyaagaard.com

    1. northernirishgirlonline

      October 8, 2018 at 11:20 pm

      Thank you so much babe! xx

  • Its my crazy beautiful life

    October 7, 2018 at 3:42 pm

    This is such a great informational post and I love how you described everything! A lot of people don’t know anything about breast cancer because they fail to research or go to the Dr, I loved this!

    1. northernirishgirlonline

      October 8, 2018 at 11:22 pm

      Thank you!

  • Emmanuela Agu

    October 6, 2018 at 5:10 pm

    I love! Your writing style so amazing! I enjoyed reading this!

    1. northernirishgirlonline

      October 6, 2018 at 9:06 pm

      Thank you so much doll and thank you for sharing it xo

  • Rosiex

    October 6, 2018 at 4:45 pm

    This is informed me so much and I’m so glad you shared with me and everyone else! x

    1. northernirishgirlonline

      October 6, 2018 at 9:06 pm

      Thank you, glad you liked it x

  • Batmom85

    October 5, 2018 at 1:13 pm

    You’re one of my favorite bloggers. You’re so funny and educational! and you’re Irish 🤷🏾‍♀️ I mean what’s not to love! Breast checks are so important and I’m so glad that your spreading the world about them. You’re amazing this blog is amazing! I’m glad to be you’re friend!

    1. northernirishgirlonline

      October 5, 2018 at 9:59 pm

      Haha I love this comment!! Thank you so much 😊 you’re awesome. I’ve tagged a few charities in the hopes they’ll actually retweet it so more awareness can be raised. Fingers crossed 🤞🏼 xx

  • whatiwrite4

    October 5, 2018 at 12:39 pm

    So informative. I truly learnt a lot.
    I cant imagine the efforts and time that must have gone into creating this write up.
    Keep going!!!
    Kani.
    http://www.whatiwrite.com

    1. northernirishgirlonline

      October 5, 2018 at 5:43 pm

      Thanks so much xx

  • Ben

    October 5, 2018 at 5:25 am

    This is really well done. Got here from your reddit link. Keep up the good work.

    Very thorough.

    1. northernirishgirlonline

      October 5, 2018 at 10:07 am

      Thanks so much, Ben! I really appreciate it.

    2. northernirishgirlonline

      October 10, 2018 at 11:17 pm

      Thank you so much, Ben!

  • Trudy

    October 5, 2018 at 3:54 am

    Great information! 👏🏻 5 Women I know just in the last year and a half were diagnosed with breast cancer. Luckily they all are survivors! 👏🏻😍

    1. northernirishgirlonline

      October 5, 2018 at 10:06 am

      Thank you so much Trudy, the feedback is greatly appreciated. So glad your loved ones made it through and got the all clear.

    2. northernirishgirlonline

      October 10, 2018 at 11:18 pm

      Oh wow, that’s an awful lot of lovely women who don’t deserve it. I’m sure they are tough cookies like you say! Sending them lots of love and positivity xx

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