26 OCT - 2023
As breast cancer awareness month rolls to an end, I'm here to serve you one final reminder on checking your boobies.
October is Breast Cancer Awareness month, and believe it or not, far more people than you know are impacted by breast cancer. Be it if they have been diagnosed themselves (and 1 in 9 New Zealand women are diagnosed every day so that statistic is far closer to home than you think!), or they are impacted because a family member or other loved one has had breast cancer.
For me, it was the latter. My mother was diagnosed with breast cancer a couple of years ago. The news was hard to take, shocking and in all honesty, didn’t feel real. I think I deal with things strangely. I love a shit yarn (I mean, I write for online magazines….), but for some reason, when it comes to communicating real feelings and things that scare me or weigh heavily on me, I become very private. Sophie asked me to write this piece in the past and I didn’t feel ready, in all honesty. And to be fair, not much has changed now, but as time has passed, you do feel a little more ready to acknowledge things as they don’t feel so close to your life at the time. After mum’s diagnosis, things followed relatively quickly because it was detected early, meaning we could follow on with the partial mastectomy and radiation treatment to eradicate whatever cancerous cells they had found at the time.
In all honesty, breast cancer (and the big c) is far more prevalent than you would expect. The whole experience is immensely triggering, especially when it comes to associating it with parents. Your parents created you. For me at least, I’m used to viewing them as more powerful relative to myself. They did raise me (and are still, in some ways). To see a parent not at their best is an inexplicable feeling. Crazy is one way to describe it, but just uncomfortable is the other word that comes to mind.
What this really taught me though is that early detection is the best protection. If you haven’t read Roxy’s piece from last year, you really should, because she shares her journey with breast cancer awareness and how at 18, she had the scare of a lifetime. She really honed in on the importance of looking at your own body and being able to notice things when they may be out of shape, as that can motivate you to take the next steps and book in ultrasounds or monograms with professionals.
The big C takes so many lives a year in many shapes and different forms.
I used to be convinced that I had Iatrophobia, which is the fear of going to the doctor. Even when I was sick or showing signs of illness, I wouldn’t want to go simply because I didn’t want to hear bad news. But the big c in general takes many lives a year and comes in many shapes and forms. I’ve now had not one but three immediate family members have cancer in some shape or form, AND I’m talking different types: lymphoma, uterus and now breast cancer. That is NUTS. So to hell with Iatrophobia now, especially if 1 in 9 New Zealanders are getting diagnosed with breast cancer daily, just think about that on a global scale.
So as October rolls to a close, the Chatty team wants to make sure their chums know two very important things.
How to do preliminary checks for any changes in your breasts:
Lucky for you, there are so many resources on how to do a quick check. But something that doctors recommend you do on a weekly basis at the least is a basic check in the shower using the flats of your 3 middle fingers to check across both breasts for any changes in texture or lumps. The Breast Cancer Foundation NZ recommends that you go all the way up until you are under the armpit.
If you're a visual learner, then here's an easy to follow guide of what to do.
How to donate:
Our Breast Cancer Foundation NZ is incredible with their mission and foundation devoted to breast cancer education, research and patient support.
There are so many ways that you can give back. Last year, I volunteered at the pink ribbon foundation appeal (I stood on the road and collected coins). I was so shocked by how many people dropped fat stacks of cash in there, like woah. I also got to hold a cute dog while doing it as the main organising lady had brought her dog. How good.
But volunteering isn’t the only way, our BCF NZ has so many initiatives all year round that make giving back and volunteering so fun such as fundraising by organising a pink ribbon breakfast where you and your girls dress in pink and eat pink foods (well it doesn’t all have to be pink, but very on theme). This year alone, there have been 4807 hosts raising around $3 million! BCF NZ also does the pink walk, which is an organised walk in support of breast cancer.
Chums, we hope we’ve inspired you to check your boobs and give back to the wahine in our community who may need our support. Breast cancer unfortunately affects far too many of us, and the only way to close the gap is by being educated and lending support to those who need it.