When it comes to breast cancer discovery, the most common story one hears is, “I felt a lump.” And for good reason — monthly self-checks can (and do!) save lives through early detection, as knowing how your breasts typically feel makes it easier to feel a difference.
But, it’s not always a lump.
And self-checks involve more than pressing your fingers against your breast tissue occasionally in the shower.
It’s important to check for lumps, yes — but do you know what your breasts look like? I mean, really look like?
Breast cancer survivor Erin Smith Chieze knew what to feel for, but it wasn’t until she saw an image similar to the one in her post below (sourced from the Facebook page that started the Know Your Lemons campaign) that she knew what to look for.
So the day she saw a similar indentation in her own breast, she knew something was wrong.
Chieze couldn’t feel a lump, but five days later she was diagnosed with breast cancer. A month after that, she found out she was stage IV — the cancer had spread.
She shared her experience on Facebook to raise awareness, as early detection can help so much in fighting off the disease.
Her post reads:
In the past few days, I have received quite a few private messages about a “game” going around where you post a heart, then you are secretly supposed to state it is for breast cancer awareness. This is my response to all of these messages.
Someone once posted a picture on Facebook of what breast cancer can look like. Not feel, but look like. In December of 2015 when I saw an indentation that looked like one of those pictures, I instantly knew I had breast cancer. I tried to feel for a tumor, but my tumor was non palpable. I was diagnosed with breast cancer 5 days later and with stage 4 the following month. A heart did nothing for awareness. I knew what breast cancer was. I knew all about self exams, but a picture of what to look for keyed me into knowing I had a terminal disease. We need to give REAL information, not cute hearts. Without having seen a picture randomly with real information, I wouldn’t have known what to look for. Do us a favor, stop playing games with my life and start truly helping people. Metastatic breast cancer treatment research and real awareness.
This is a photo I have found that is very similar to the one I originally saw. PLEASE, stop playing games that do not actually promote awareness, they often cause people to tune out anything that might even mention the word awareness. So if you truly want to help people WITH cancer, or those who will GET cancer, share photos like this one. I wish I remembered who posted the original picture I saw, it truly did make a difference for me.
I found this photo at https://www.worldwidebreastcancer.org/
Editing to add. I have been contacted by the designer for the photograph that I have used Corrine Ellsworth Beaumont and while I did cite the URL that I found the picture from, I would also like to add the Facebook page of the organization that started the know your lemons campaign. Credit absolutely must be given to the wonderful people who are working so hard to get accurate and memorable information out to the public. I just happened upon this photo and used it in order to make my point, but I am SO thankful that other women and men may see this and know what they are possibly looking at and seek immediate medical attention.
Now it’s time to do your part. Share this post. You could save someone’s life, and it could even be your own.
C. Dixon likes to read, sing, eat, drink, write, and other verbs. She enjoys cavorting around the country to visit loved ones and experience new places, but especially likes to be at home with her husband, son, and dog.