Are you checking your gear more often than you’re checking yourself?
Hey all you fly friends and fanatics – it’s your WSN family here to share an important message which isn’t exactly about skydiving – but is definitely necessary information for all women to have.
You may or may not know that October is National Breast Cancer Foundation, Inc. Breast Cancer Awareness Month. As the summer jumping season across the northern hemisphere is closing, and cooler days set in, we’re taking some time to talk about what you can do at home to mitigate your risks of breast cancer – information which could save lives inside and outside of our sport.
It’s time to RISE: Breast Cancer Awareness Month
Though the needle is pushed further and further everyday by new badass flying gals joining our ranks, we are still in a community heavily occupied by males. While they too need to be aware of the risks and warning signs of breast cancer, in general they’re certainly not interested in talking about those concerns, especially with us! So, we’ve got to talk about it in the spaces that we can. Welcome, ladies!
As is true in many aspects of skydiving and life, the best way to protect yourself is to ensure you’re informed, prepared, and regularly checking in. Avoiding the life-altering repercussions of undiagnosed breast cancer is possible with regular self-checks and mammograms. To help you do all of that better, we’d like to share some of the National Breast Cancer Foundation’s tips to help you stay on top of (and hopefully free of) any serious issues.
Early Detection is Essential
While it cannot be predicted or avoided altogether through attentive monitoring, the most effective way to prevent serious illness resulting from breast cancer is to find it early and begin treatment before it spreads. The American Cancer society has stated that when localized and detected early, the 5-year relative survival rate for those diagnosed with breast cancer is an astounding 99%. That’s even better than your chances of finding a cold one at the DZ on a Friday at sunset. We like those odds.
When Do I Need to Check Myself?
Well, before you wreck yourself… or rather before cancer has the chance to wreak havoc by growing and spreading unchecked. The recommended interval is monthly, so put it on your calendar, stick a note in your phone, or build your habit around something regular like your cycle, paying bills, or heck – the moon phases – if that’s your thing!
Photographer Tina Buckthorp: Jump For The Cause, 2009. Raising Awareness for Breast Cancer
How Do I Self-Check?
A quick 1-2-3 monthly can save your life. Here’s how to perform a self-check for breast cancer.
Between conditioning and rinsing, take a few minutes to feel for any lumps, thickening, hardened knots, or anything that feels new or different. Your hair will thank you, too. Multitasking for the win! Use the pads of your pointer, middle, and ring fingers. (Think “scout’s honor.”) Check the entire breast and armpit areas by pressing down with varied pressure – from light to firm.
Take some time to get to know your breasts from a different perspective.
Start with your arms by your sides and visually inspect, then raise your arms above your head and look for changes of the nipples, or any contour, swelling, or skin dimpling. Finally, place your palms on your hips and press to flex your chest muscles, looking for any changes, especially if it’s one-sided.
Don’t worry if you’re not evenly balanced (very few women are), just look out for the same changes as you did with arms overhead.
Last, place a pillow below your left shoulder and lie flat on your back with your left arm behind your head, expanding your left side of your chest broadly. Use your right finger pads once again to gently move around the left breast, covering the entire breast and armpit area.
Squeeze the nipple and check for any lumps or discharge.
Repeat on the right side.
You Did It!
It may take a bit to get used to it, but once you’ve done it a few times, the self-checks are like riding a bike…actually, easier!
What if I Found Something?
Any cancer or potential cancer can be very scary, but the good news is that even if you do feel something off, there are more women with benign breast irregularities than there are with breast cancer. So, before going full-panic and shutting down, call your doctor, schedule a mammogram, and grab yourself a handy tool to combat unnecessary freakouts (on Fridays, or any other day) – Breast Problems That Aren’t Breast Cancer e-book Remember, early detection = 99% 5-year relative survival rate, so the sooner you know, the better!
Happy checking and wishing you wellness, now and always, sky sister!
– The WSN Team
P.S. October 9th & 10th is Jump for the Rose’s 12th annual Pinkfest Boogie at Skydive Spaceland.
They’re giving away a custom Sabre 3. Raffle tickets are only $10/ea and available online (in case you can’t make the event). All proceeds go to Jump for the Rose – an organization that supports The Rose Houston-area breast cancer clinics aiming to reduce deaths from breast cancer by providing screening, diagnostics and access to treatment for all women, regardless of their ability to pay.