Blogging From A-Z: J is for Jugs

Jugs, boobs, tits, breasts – let’s not be coy ladies, we’ve all got them (and some men too!) whether small or large, pert or flapping in the breeze so perhaps it would be a good idea to make sure they’re healthy?

It doesn’t seem to matter how many times self-examination is discussed on TV it is still more common (in my experience) to find women who don’t self-examine than those who do. It does seem a little irresponsible to not at least cop a quick feel in the shower to make sure there are no lumps or bumps to worry about. And if this sounds like a lecture, well then good! How important are five minutes out of your life if it means you get to live your life?

I suppose I’m a bit more aware of breast cancer as my mum has had it, but I also know many other people whose lives have been touched but it – it is, after all the most commonly diagnosed cancer in the UK, with 48,000 diagnoses each year (Breakthrough Breast Cancer, 2011). More women than ever are surviving breast cancer these days, thanks to improved screening and catching it early can – literally – mean the difference between life or death. I’ll also take a brief moment here to let you know that 300 men per year are also diagnosed with breast cancer – so this disease is certainly not sexist.

For the past four or five years I have been a participant in the Breakthrough Generations Study, which is a long-term study of over 100,000 women of all ages, some who have had breast cancer and some who have not. The aim of the study is to pinpoint what lifestyle factors might contribute to breast cancer and it is taking place over up to 40 years. Originally I was sent an initial questionnaire about my lifestyle, family cancers, whether I had had any children or not and had to send that back with a blood sample to examine hormonal and familial factors. Periodically I get questionnaires through the post to update them on my lifestyle – for example in my first questionnaire I had not had children and obviously now I have had two children and breastfed them – which according to some sources will improve my chances of not getting breast cancer.

The study has reached its target number of participants but is still welcoming volunteers so if you are interested in taking part please do get in touch with them.

Breakthrough Breast Cancer have a great self-examination video on their website, which I would urge you to have a look at, and they also offer a self-examination reminder service and an iPhone app with all this information – which I’ve just downloaded.

There are many websites detailing how to self-examine, and even kits you can buy to help you, but to be honest just getting to know your breasts, what they look like, what they feel like and what is normal for you is the only thing you need to start you off. If anything seems different to you and you are worried GO TO SEE YOUR GP. Even if it turns out to be something quite innocent (which in most cases it is), is it worth the risk that it’s not?

I’ll end the lecture now with some handy links about self-examination and the NHS Screening Programme, but I think you can see my message. Get to know what is normal for you, take the time to examine your breasts and if you find something you’re not happy with please, please. PLEASE get it checked.

NHS Be Breast Aware
Cancer Research UK – Breast Awareness
Breast Cancer Care – Breast Awareness

Breakthrough Breast Cancer, 2011 Understanding Breast Cancer [Online] [Accessed 12/04/11]

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10 Responses to Blogging From A-Z: J is for Jugs

  1. Cath says:

    I have to say, I think that is far and away the best opening sentence to a blog post – ever!!
    And you’re absolutely right of course, a few minutes of my time now really could add years to my life. One thing you didn’t mention though was how often it should be done.
    I admit, I don’t really check my breasts for lumps and bumps and things. But now, after your stern lecture 😉 I will. Thanks for bringing more attention to this very important subject.

    • Stacey says:

      You’re quite right – a glaring omission on my part, but it is really up to you – the iPhone app and reminder service is set up to send you a reminder once a week, fortnightly or once a month, so I guess once a month would be the minimum. I tend make sure I do at least once a month as they feel different as you go through your monthly cycle, but also any other time that it crosses your mind is good!

  2. Jay says:

    Amazing post!

    And I can’t believe there’s a jugs app for the iPhone! I will be duly downloading it and watching the self-exam video when I get home.

    And to underscore your message that bit further, I lost a friend to breast cancer *because* she did not get a lump checked out. By the time she finally psyched herself up to go to the GP several months later, her cancer had already spread.

  3. An excellent post. Shall download the app and schedule in my copping a feels, as you put it.
    Thanks for the reminder, I do try to do but forget at times.

  4. Steph says:

    Thanks for the lecture, it really is good to be reminded of this. Such an easy thing to do too. Over from Blog Horn btw!

  5. QWERTY Mum says:

    I found a lump that turned out to be nothing but you can’t be too careful
    (visiting from BlogHorn)

  6. Really good post, very informative. I don’t think women check their breasts on a regular basis, I don’t even though I know I should.

    CJ xx

  7. Pingback: Open Wide Ladies, It Won’t Hurt A Bit… | It Takes A Woman

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