Malaysian women as young as 17 and as old as 85-years old have all been victims to the dreaded Breast Cancer, with the highest number of reported cases found in Chinese, followed by Indians and Malays.
Doctor Aisyah Asmadi, 28, is a perfect example of how breast cancer does not discriminate and can happen to anyone young or old. Not only did Aisyah detect the cancer once – but on two separate occasions in the span of six years.
“The first thing you think of is – why me? I’m a good person, I’m learning to help save lives so why is this happening to me?” she said at the Love My Life initiative organised by Xixili recently.
However, her early detection and quick course of action following her discovery of lumps through a breast self-examination proved to have been a life-saver as the cancer was detected at an early stage in both instances.
She went on to add, “Seeking late treatment is playing with your life. Know your breasts, know what’s normal and do regular screenings. Early detection saves lives and saves your breasts.”
Another survivor VenusBuzz.com had the privilege to speak to was Yasogee Pechumuthu, a teacher who was vocal about not being breast aware prior to the discovery of her third stage cancer.
“I thought I was going to die, and prepared myself for death. What brought me back was the thought of my children,” she said in a moving account of how she felt in the days after the doctor broke to her the news.
“But I live one day at a time now, and I make full use of today. It’s important to remember that cancer is not a punishment from God – I am not shy of this breast.”
Why we need to Breast Self-Examine (BSE)
In conjunction with Breast Cancer Awareness month, lingerie brand Xixili is encouraging women of all ages to practice Breast Self-Examination (BSE) once a month, because we all know the best cure for breast cancer is an early detection.
A BSE can easily be done in the comfort of your own home and is the simplest and most accessible method for early breast cancer detection. It is advised to do it once a month, between the 7th and 12th day from day one of your period.
What to look out for:
- Unusual difference in size or shape of your breast
- Dimpling / puckering of skin
- Change in the nipples’ position, colour and / or direction
- Unusual rash or difference in the colour of your skin
- Lumps in the breast or armpit area
- Thickening area in the breast
- Persistent pain or tenderness
1. Facing a mirror
Stand before a mirror and compare both breasts for differences in size, nipple inversion (turning in), bulging, or dimpling. Note any skin or nipple changes, such as a hard knot or nipple discharge.
Inspect your breasts in the following 4 poses:
- With your arm at your sides
- With your arm overhead
- With your hand on hip – Press firmly to flex your chest muscles
- Bent forward
In these positions, your pectoral muscles are contracted, and a subtle dimpling of the skin may appear if a growing tumor has affected a ligament.
2. Lying down
- Place a pillow under your right shoulder
- Put your right hand under your head
- Check the entire right breast area with the finger pads of your left hand. Do not use just your finger tips.
- Feel the breast with the surfaces of the second, third and fourth fingers, moving systematically and using small, circular motions from the nipple to the outer margins.
- Alternatively, use small circles and follow an up-and-down pattern from the armpits all the way around the whole breast including your nipple.
- Use light, medium, and firm pressure over each area of the breast.
- Gently squeeze the nipple for any discharge.
- Remember to use the same method each time so you remember how your breasts normally feel.
- Repeat these steps on your left breast using your right hand.
3. In the shower
A BSE can easily be performed while you’re in the bath or shower. Some women discover breast masses when their skin is moist.
- Raise your right arm.
- With your soapy left hand and fingers flat, check your right breast.
- Use the same small circles and up-and-down pattern described earlier.
- Repeat on the left breast.
See your doctor immediately if you notice any changes; finding a breast change may not necessarily mean there is a cancer.
To get more info breast cancer awareness in Malaysia, visit the PRIDE website. or National Cancer Council MAKNA. For clinical practice guidelines, visit the Ministry of Health Malaysia or the National Specialists Register in Malaysia.