Don't Be Silly, Check Your Titty!

Happy Wednesday!

It has been a busy week coming back from vacation and getting back in the swing of things! It is so hard to return and have to try and remember your passwords or even basic nursing skills sometimes. We also got back just in time to get ready for Hurricane Michael! Send well wishes to our friends and families who are in the storm's path. Be safe everyone and stay in shelter if you can. We hope our co-workers who are sticking out the storm at hospitals and clinics are safe and don't have too many patients trying to brave the elements to come see you.

Anyway, lets get on with the post for this week! It is Breast Cancer Awareness Month! In honor of breast cancer awareness, we felt it was important to discuss this topic. We have all known someone that has battled breast cancer. While there isn’t a cure yet, that doesn’t mean we can lose hope. As healthcare professionals our duty is to educate our patients.

Breast cancer awareness infographic

These are so pretty staggering numbers that help to put breast cancer in perspective. It can be anyone you know who is at risk for breast cancer and we need to be proactive. Early detection can save lives so we must promote regular monthly self examinations. During the exam, if something feels different, it is in that individual’s best interest to seek medical attention to rule out cancer. Take a look at this self-examination diagram. This should not take you long, but it will be time well spent. Many clinicians recommend doing this exam in the shower when the skin is moist and lumps can be felt a little easier. It is also a private space where you can take some time to perform this examination.

Perform these four steps to complete a breast examination. This includes feeling each breast with three fingers in a circular fashion from the inside to the outside of each breast; feeling for any thickening or lumps. Look at each breast and assess for symmetry and any visual changes to the shape of the breast. Then raise each arm and look for lumps under the arms; these could be swollen lymph notes that can help identify tumor growths. Finally, squeeze the nipple of each breast and make note of any discharge from the nipple. Notify your primary care provider immediately if you have any changes.
Breast Self-Examination

Perform these four steps to complete a breast examination. This includes feeling each breast with three fingers in a circular fashion from the inside to the outside of each breast; feeling for any thickening or lumps. Look at each breast and assess for symmetry and any visual changes to the shape of the breast. Then raise each arm and look for lumps under the arms; these could be swollen lymph notes that can help identify tumor growths. Finally, squeeze the nipple of each breast and make note of any discharge from the nipple. They should notify their primary care provider immediately if they have any changes. Their physician may request they get a mammogram along with some blood work at that point. 

When you are caring for someone who has been recently diagnosed, they are more than likely scared and we have to be there for them. If they are going to have a mastectomy, they may not be able to have their IV sticks, blood drawn, or blood pressure checked on the side of the surgery related to any possible lymph node removal during the procedure. If their treatment plan is chemo or radiation, discuss neutropenic precautions and the potential side effects of the treatments such as hair loss, weight loss, nausea and/or vomiting. 

If there’s one thing you can take away from this is just be there for the patient or client. This is also true for the family as well. We have gotten much better in healthcare to think of the patient not just as one individual, but also the family as a unit.

When offering comfort they may just need someone to hold their hand, give them a hug, be their cheerleader, or just them a word of encouragement to keep fighting. There is a reason those who have been through cancer diagnoses are called survivors and we need to respect that. A positive attitude goes a long way. We’ve all heard the phrase “mind over matter” and kind words can have a great impact. 

There’s an abundance of resources readily available. For more information, click on the link visit Mayo Clinic's page discussing breast cancer awareness. Point your patient in the direction of good resources if your facility does not have a specific handout for them. Be mindful that some clients may not have computer access, so be prepared to print some information out for them.

If you would like to donate to American Cancer Society, click on the link.

Be on the lookout for breast cancer walks in your local town! Not only are they fun, but your time and money goes to a great cause!

Please continue to monitor your family, friends, patients, and of course yourself...

*Disclaimer: ADPIE is not sponsored by Mayo Clinic, or the American Cancer society. All links and graphics are the property of their respective owners.* 

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