60-80% of women diagnosed with breast cancer under 40, found the abnormality through self exam or by accident.
And I am part of that majority. I found a lump through intuition and a self breast exam, and I needed to be persistent until the doctors would do the imaging. Throughout my experience, I wondered how different things would have been if I'd found it later, or if I'd let the doctors dismiss it as probably nothing.
That's why self-exams and body awareness is key for young women; for everyone really, but in the case of breast cancer, it is uniquely important for young women. Not only do the majority of young women find the abnormality themselves, but the impacts of breast cancer differ for younger women, for reasons such as hormonal, biological and treatment differences.
Here's a few more statistics to understand how breast cancer differs for younger women:
Regular self-exams and being familiar with your body and it's cycles, makes it easier to detect changes and determine what is normal for you and what might not be. And, of course, having a healthcare provider you trust is also important, and can be even more effective as you get established over time.
If you need more information on how to do a self breast exam, check out these guidelines from the National Breast Cancer Foundation or this 2-minute video by DiscoveryForMe (selfies optional!).
And now through November 7th, the #CheckYourself shirts are available for sale. Grab one and remember to #checkyourself + tell your friends to do the same! Proceeds will be applied towards medical bills & support non-profits @thesamfund + @positive.community.kitchen.
Purchases in Eugene, Portland, and Reno will have pickup events in late November. If you want to pick yours up, select pickup at distribution for no-fee pickup with me! 🎁
#youfeelingme #checkyourself #beforeyouwreckyourself
📷 @c.arrowood 👚@trianglegraphic
*Statistics quoted comes from various research but is also compiled by Young Survival Coalition; they are now in their 20th year of supporting women through legislation and research for breast cancer under 40.
The realization came to me with perfect clarity, and in an instant I knew... I suppose that’s how life changes – in little, everyday moments. The really big news hits when you least expect it, like driving home, or in my case, doing the dishes.
Things had felt off for the past several months, and though I couldn’t pinpoint it, I had a sense there was something waiting to be discovered.
It had been almost two years since I was in a car accident, and though I walked away from it without major or visible injuries, I was still working through a lot of pain and trauma.
In the world of insurance companies, there is a timeline for how long it should take you to heal based on your specific accident, illness, and injuries. According to them, I should’ve been fine, but I couldn’t shake the feeling that something wasn’t healing.
That deep sense of intuition doesn't really fly as viable reason or symptoms in western medicine, but the sense that something was off was based on more than just chronic pain and intuition – I was having issues and symptoms that seemed to be disconnected and erratic, but also, maybe not?
Before I was ready to start posting about my nearly 2-year journey with cancer, I thought about why? Why me? What would I write about?
Why would people read my story?
Because my story is just that – my story. It’s not one of an unusual cancer or rare disease. I wasn't on the precipice of death or undergoing experimental treatment. In some ways, pieces of my story are not terribly uncommon, though in other ways, of course it is.
It is not the extremity or rarity of my story that inspires me to share, and I don’t think anyone’s experience needs to be any of those things in order to be valid, and valuable. Each story (cancer or otherwise) is individual, meaningful, and full of potential gems.
I write as a way to heal and move energy, for myself and for others. I share as a reminder that our experiences are unique but not solitary, even when what you're going through feels painfully isolating.
Stories can help us connect and resonate with others. Within them are threads that can bring us closer, regardless of differences or inexperience -- the foundation of compassion and empathy.
Recently I met a male cancer survivor who had gone through a hormonal cancer treatment that induced a state of menopause. Having also gone through a medically-induced (but thank heavens, temporary) menopause, I could relate. He is man, I am in my early thirties; neither of us should be personally familiar with the woes of menopause, but we are.