Thursday, March 7, 2013

Check yourself...

So...shortly after I was finished with my radiation treatments, I started getting a little bonkers about doing breast self-exams.  No more treatments and doctor's visits meant I was responsible for making sure everything was A-ok... too much responsibility for me.  I started getting a little ridiculous, checking every single day when I was in the shower. I was beginning to drive myself batty, because basically everything felt like a lump.  Even though I know what a real cancer tumor feels like, I still got that panicked feeling when I felt something a little different than the previous time.

And then, my radiation doctor, actually called my radiation oncologist (I just looked that up because I never knew exactly what her title was), recommended that I just pick the first day of each month to do a self-exam.  Phew, what a relief!  Seems so completely simple and obvious.... really, I could have come up with that myself.  Especially since that's been the recommendation since I started doing self-exams.  But, I didn't remember and I certainly didn't think about it myself.  We will just blame it on the ole chemo brain; yes, I will continue to use that as my excuse for
quite some time.

Anyway, now on the first of each month, I take a couple deep breaths and do a thorough self-exam.  It basically puts a lump in my throat every time, but after I check, I'm good for another month.  And, guess what?  This month I actually forgot to do it on the 1st and did it on the 2nd.  I thought that was good because it means I'm not thinking about it as much...right?

If you're not familiar with how to do a self-exam, look here.  I know I was hesitant to do them in the past because I really didn't know what I was looking for and I didn't want to alarm myself by constantly feeling things.  However, if you get to know your own body and understand what things are supposed to feel like, it would probably be more likely for you to identify a potential issue more easily.  Although I didn't intentionally find my lump, I knew, without a doubt, that it didn't belong there... 

When I started looking for links for self-exams, I came across this website that actually has parties to help educate and promote self-exams.  Hmmmmm, I'm not sure I would feel comfortable hosting or attending one of these parties, but each year since they started, they have educated more and more people, so two thumbs up to that.  Go to the site and check out the video.

Knowledge of the self is the mother of all knowledge. So it is incumbent on me to know my self, to know it completely, to know its minutiae, its characteristics, its subtleties, and its very atoms.

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