Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Think Pink

October is Breast Cancer Awareness month. Although it is nearing the end of the month, I wanted to bring attention to this very important cause. So, let's talk boobies.
Did you know that breast cancer not only impacts women, but a small percentage of men as well. Sure, guys' breasts are usually smaller than women's, but the tissue is the same as well as the lymphatic system that runs in that general area. So, even though this sounds odd, encouraging the men in your life to perform self examinations could be beneficial.
Speaking of self examinations, it has been proven that this method is the best for detection of breast cancer. Who knows your body better than you do? It doesn't have to be a huge production. Some would suggest just to check each breast carefully during your shower for lumps, skin mutations and any other oddities. You can also check in your make-up mirror when getting ready  for work in the morning or when brushing your teeth for bed. That said, just looking is not enough. Seeing is not always believing-take it from me. Sometimes lumps cannot be seen, but will be noticeable to the touch. Regardless, make it a part of your routine. If you do this often enough, you will notice the smallest of changes, which could lead to an early diagnosis. Early diagnosis is the key with combatting breast cancer. So, don't be embarrassed or ashamed: it is your body, be proud of it. Self examination is not the only diagnostic tool available out there.
Of course there is the dreaded mammogram. Just think of it as a necessary evil. It's a small bit of your time that, in comparison to fighting breast cancer, is really insignificant. If you are set against having this procedure done, why not find a clinic that uses dogs to sniff out cancer? Yes, they have those. Amazingly, the dogs are actually quite accurate, it's less invasive and they can usually detect cancer early. However, some doctors will say that nothing is better than a mammogram. So, do your research before selecting a diagnostic tool.
Most certainly diagnostic tools could be considered part of preventative measures, but there are some other small steps you can take that could make a difference.
Underlying the breast tissue and back into your armpit there is a very delicate system called the lymphatic system. This closed circuit system runs throughout your entire body and is a part of your immune system. It has its own fluid called Lymphatic fluid and has little clusters called lymphatic nodes-sounding familiar? This system is quite close to the surface and is very sensitive. Massage therapists can be trained in lymphatic drainage, a gentle technique that assists the flow of lymphatic fluid. There are many reasons for using lymphatic drainage, but one reason is to move stagnant fluid out of an area and move in fresh, nutrient rich fluid. Because of restrictive clothing, such as bras, or lifestyle, the fluid can become stuck, but there are ways to help this fluid move along.
Let's talk bras. There is some controversy on this topic and I do not claim to be a bra expert, but I have chosen to, for the most part, wear wireless bras. It has been noted in some studies that the under wires of bras press on the sensitive lymphatic vessels and congests that area. Some believe this can contribute to the development of breast cancer. The best part is that specialty bra/panty  stores have picked up on this trend and you can now get cute, wireless bras from stores like La Sensa and Victoria Secret. I would know; that is where I bought mine from. That said, sometimes a bra with an under wire is necessary, but I try not to wear them as often as I can.
Another way to free up that congestion potentially  caused by wearing bras with under wires, is going braless whenever possible. Don't wear bras to bed and if you are home relaxing, take the bra off. Give your body time to breathe. Bras are man made contraptions, do you really think we are meant to wear them constantly? It's the same with shoes. Studies have proven that wearing shoes all of the time causes major foot/back problems. Why would it be any different with bras? And don't get me started on the back/spine problems bras cause in women.
Saunas have also been thought to help move stagnant lymphatic fluid. The only problem is that women go in with bathing suits  with under wires in them and that defeats the purpose. Again, your body needs to breathe and your sweat needs to be able to escape unhindered. So, use the sauna with non-restrictive clothing.
Bouncing on a mini trampoline is also beneficial. It not only assists with water retention, but the percussive action created when bouncing acts as a pump squeezing and then releasing, which propels the lymphatic fluid through the system. Exercising in general that uses the pectoral muscles, like swimming for example, can also create this action, but again non-restrictive clothing must be worn in order to reap the benefits.
The last option I have written about in length before. Most people won't be comfortable with it, but breast massage is incredibly beneficial. It can be performed over the sheets if you are uncomfortable and the nipple should never be massaged. Some people opt to get nipple covers and have the massage be performed without the sheet. If you choose to go this route just remember that it is your massage and you should be comfortable. Breast massage essentially accomplishes the same thing bouncing on a mini trampoline does, just very effectively. When I was in massage college, I had it done and was amazed at the results. The most obvious and amazing result was that my  breast tenderness before my menstruation cycle disappeared. When deciding whether or not to have breast massage, phone around and ask massage therapists if they are trained in breast massage. Ask if they are comfortable performing it and whether or not they do it on a regular basis. Always pick someone you are comfortable with. In Ontario, they should have you sign a special release form stating that you agree to the breast massage. This form is to protect you and the therapist. If at any time during the massage you feel uncomfortable, you can terminate the session. This goes for any massage treatment.
However you may choose to prevent and/or test for breast cancer, just know that it is a very real condition that can impact anyone of any age. There are definite ages when the cases become more common, but don't think that just because you are young you do not need to perform self examinations.
October is incredibly busy with breast cancer awareness campaigns, fundraising and events. Use the search engine of your choice and see if there is anything locally that you could attend. Maybe you would like to support the cause by purchasing various breast cancer merchandise. Practically all of the breast cancer awareness sites have products for sale; everything from pink ribbons to pink dog leashes. Just know that if you do choose to participate or purchase something, that you are involved in something that has or will   impact your life. If a woman herself has not had breast cancer, she knows someone who has.
So, bottom line: take care of your boobies.

1 comment:

browndogcbr said...

Hi Jess,

You're correct about knowing someone with breast cancer. I had a grandmother and an aunt with breast cancer. More recently I had one close friend have a mastectomy and lost another to the disease. Both of my friends were in their early 40's when the cancer was discovered.

Great reminder. I didn't know about the bras.

BrownDog's Human