Have you heard? Today is No Bra Day, in America at least, a day that encourages women to set the "girls" free in "support" of October's National Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
While the occasion may be liberating, the event is not without controversy. Twitter is abuzz with the hashtag #nobraday now also trending in South Africa.
No Bra Day helps raise awareness about a very important cause - breast cancer.
Apart from non-melanoma skin cancer, Breast Cancer is the most common cancer in women of all races, with a lifetime risk of 1 in 35 in South Africa, according to the 2007 National Cancer Registry. Despite the many advances in cancer treatment and great progress over the years, the cause of breast cancer is still unknown. According to Examiner.com, it is estimated that more than 230 000 American women will be diagnosed with breast cancer this year and 40 000 will die.
But many do survive breast cancer. In fact, 89 percent survived five or more years after being diagnosed between 2004 and 2010. Finding cancer early by regular self-exams and mammograms can save your life. Know the known risks and talk to your doctor about scheduling a mammogram.
National Breast Cancer Awareness Month helps raise awareness and supports breast cancer research, but also honors those who have lost the fight.
There are five steps to perform a proper breast self-examination:
- Stand in front of the mirror with your shoulders straight and your hands on your hips. Check that your breasts are the usual size, shape, and colour. Check that there is no visible distortion or swelling. If you see any dimpling, puckering, or bulging of the skin, nipple changes, redness, soreness, rash, or swelling, visit your doctor immediately.
- Do the same visual examination in front of the mirror, this time with your arms lifted above your head.
- Check that there is no liquid, watery, milky, yellow, or blood, coming out the nipple by gently squeezing the breast.
- Lying down, use your left hand to check your right breast, and then your right hand to check your left breast. Keeping the fingers flat and together, use your fingertips to make circular motions around the area of the breast. Make sure to check the entire area of both breasts.
- Do the same examination, this time standing or sitting. It may be easier to complete this step in the shower.
Remember to do a self-examination monthly to make sure that you are familiar with the feel of your breasts. If you notice any changes, either visually or to the touch, report them to your doctor immediately.
It's not too late to join the #NoBraDay movement, as this clearly shows. Picture: Twitter