Let’s talk about breasts
Every year, more than 60,000 people are diagnosed with breast cancer in the UK. Since the introduction of Breast Cancer Awareness Month in October 1993, every October since has been awash with pink ribbons, which are now a global symbol for breast cancer awareness. Breast Cancer Care – the only specialist breast cancer support charity – was the first breast cancer charity in the UK to get involved in Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and through it, has helped bring the subject of breast cancer to the forefront of people’s minds and to the top of the health agenda in this country.
Tracy shares her story
Tracy, from Gravesend, was diagnosed with breast cancer in October 2009, at the age of 46. “My whole world changed at that moment,” she says. “Up until that point, I was working; had a good social network; my family were all growing up, and I was generally just getting on with life.”
Looking back, Tracy remembers the worst thing about having treatment for breast cancer was losing her hair, eyelashes and eyebrows. “It’s like losing your identity,” she adds. “My family were very supportive though, and my mum attended every chemotherapy session with me; we always went out for a meal together afterwards as a treat for getting through it.”
Three weeks after Tracy’s chemotherapy ended in May 2010, she had a mastectomy and breast reconstruction using her tummy tissue, something she managed to get through with the support of family and friends. Today, Tracy is a volunteer and also models at the Breast Cancer Care lingerie events. “Doing the events has really boosted my body confidence and I’m really grateful for that,” she says. “I feel like I’m finding my way again now – I’ve changed my career and now work for a dating agency; I love Zumba to keep fit, and I sing in a choir too. I’m also incredibly proud of my children. My daughter has just completed her masters in Cancer at University College London and is planning on doing a PHD, and my son is currently at university.”
Next month, Tracy is even is taking to the catwalk at the Breast Cancer Care London fashion show alongside 31 other people to show that you can still look fabulous after a breast cancer diagnosis.”Breast cancer is devastating,” she says. “But with the help of friends, family and Breast Cancer Care you can move on. I would urge all women to check their breasts regularly and to speak to their doctor if there’s anything unusual.”
How to check your breasts
There’s no right or wrong way to check your breasts, but do try to get used to looking at and feeling your breasts regularly as part of your usual body care routine. This could be while you’re in the bath or shower, when you’re putting on body lotion, or when you’re getting dressed – do what’s comfortable for you. You should check all parts of both breasts, your armpits and all the way up to your collarbone for any unusual changes.
It’s important to look out for lumps, but there are many other symptoms to be aware of too. This handy infographic from Breast Cancer Care, shows you exactly what to look for and where.
It is thanks to the dedication and generosity of those tirelessly raising funds for Breast Cancer Care throughout Breast Cancer Awareness Month and beyond that the charity is able to provide specialist nurses, local services and an emotional support network, free of charge to anyone affected by breast cancer.
To support people with breast cancer during Breast Cancer Awareness Month, there are many ways you can get involved.Why not hold a ‘Big Pink’ event on Friday October 14th, which can be anything from a simple dress down day at work, a fun night in with friends, or a big pink party in your community? Sign up for your free fundraising kits at www.breastcancercare.org.uk/thebigpink.
For care, support and information regarding breast cancer, please contact Breast Cancer Care for free on 0808 800 6000, at www.breastcancercare.org.uk, or via their forum at forum.breastcancercare.org.uk.