Teresa Costello is our Leader for Unislim Tallaght. She has suffered from breast cancer and is an ambassador for Breast Cancer Ireland. She runs a blog and facebook page called Breast Friends which she uses as a platform to bring together breast cancer sufferers and survivors.
As October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, let’s all try our best to become more Breast Aware. I was 36 years old when I was diagnosed with Breast Cancer. For me to say this now sounds crazy, but, I never checked my breasts before my diagnosis. I took no personal responsibility for my breast health and had a misconception that you must be a certain age group to be affected by breast cancer. That is not the truth; women of all ages can be diagnosed with breast cancer both young and old. Of all women diagnosed 15% are 20–40 years old, 49% are aged 45–65 and 36% are over 65.
Since my diagnosis and with my work as an ambassador for Breast Cancer Ireland, I have gained the valuable understanding of the importance of breast health. By checking your breasts regularly and becoming breast aware you are more likely to recognise an abnormality early, should It arise.
Breast Cancer Ireland have a free “Breast Aware” app.
It will provide you with a discreet monthly reminder to check your breasts, video tutorials showing how to carry out self-examinations and details of signs and symptoms. You can find the app here.
I was shocked to have been diagnosed with breast cancer so young. It was the biggest reality check of my life. However, every cloud has a silver lining and my experience has given me a greater appreciation for life. Thankfully, I am back to full health. I do feel that I have bounced back so well due to exercising and following a healthy diet. My treatment lasted just under a year. My treatment plan was chemotherapy, mastectomy, and radiation followed by further reconstruction. There were highs and lows along the way but the good days certainly outweighed the bad days.
I always thought that the only sign of breast cancer was a lump. Well, girls, this is not the case.
Here are some warning signs to watch out for:
- A puckering of the skin of the breast
- A lump in the breast or armpit (I never associated my armpit to my breast)
- A change in the skin around nipple or nipple discharge
- Dimpling of the nipple or nipple retraction
- An unusual increase in the size of the breast
- One breast unusually lower than the other
- Nipples at different levels
- An enlargement of the glands
- An unusual swelling in the armpit
I can’t stress the importance of knowing your own normal.
Please don’t avoid checking yourself for fear of breast cancer. Educating yourself about breast health is a powerful tool in the fight against breast cancer. Look at me now- I am happy, healthy and living life to the fullest.