Get To Know Good Breast Health
I’ve had 8000 private sessions and well over 12,000 breast and chest checks for cancer and lymphatic immune care and all my clients ask the same question: “how do I know if I have healthy breasts or not”?
And my response? Get in there and get to know your own breast tissue.
The number one method toward prevention is to get comfortable touching your chest and breasts! And not just gentle taps and pats—put your breast or chest tissue into your own hands and begin to investigate through massage. Check thoroughly from north to south, east to west towards the nipple, get to know the way your skin feels as well as the layers beneath. Feel both of your breasts together, do they feel the same or are they different and what is different? So much can change when you open up your heart to touching and loving your own breast tissue.
What do I mean when I talk about getting to know your breasts? Once you’ve set your mind in a place of curiosity and love, let your fingers, well, do the walking! Imagine your breast tissue like bread dough that you’ve lost a very small crystal within. How would you find it? Knead, massage, and move on to another part. But, unlike bread dough, pay attention to the sensations you feel. If you encounter pain, back off a little, but keep exploring. What textures do you encounter? Repeat this same process as often as you can as you get to know the tissue more and more.
It can be scary to approach this area. I think it’s a shame how politicized and sexualized this part of the body has become. Our culture has put up a mental barrier around the chest that can make it scary to contemplate, let alone, touch that area. Begin the work today of inviting your own hands to connect and communicate with this part of your body. See if you can get to a place where you feel safe letting your own hands explore. Your body is yours, your breasts are yours.
Breast care is one of my driving motivations as a teacher and as a practitioner. I have participated in more than 30 sessions of the Northern California Women’s Herbal Symposiums operating a breast check clinic called “the Areola.” My interns and I have provided over 4500 breast checks. I have also offered lymphatic breast care clinics for men & women monthly in my own treatment spaces for more than 20 years.
In my simple research, we found 4 out of 100 women had a mass in their breast tissue and it was cancer when confirmed by their doctor. I have also observed that cysts are more common than cancer, and cysts do present a mass that can be scary to find. Cysts also hurt alot and sometimes have a burning sensation. Did you know, 62% of women have a cyst in one of their breasts?
When you have a regular practice of deeply understanding your own unique breast tissue, you are more likely to find and recognize anything that seems different and out of place. And then you can visit your medical practitioner with confidence or choose to get a 3D image done (ultrasound). This is early detection at its finest.
The other struggle in opening up to understanding breast health is that male-identifying people are often forgotten in this discussion. The word “breast” cannot be tied to gender or size or shape. All humans have breast tissue. And all humans can potentially develop dis-ease in the cells of that area of the body. We must break through the barriers that exist to even speaking about this commonality so that we can all benefit from greater wellness.
My favorite breast health story is about a male student in my breast health class in 2012. I had just made the point that male bodies get breast cancer too and they must be checked as regularly and with the same focused care.
He offered his own chest for a check in class. I immediately found a hard tiny mass. I kept feeling it and trying to find the words to respect him, share truth, and honor the fact that there was a class of 25 watching it all go down. He prompted me by saying, “did you find something? It is okay to tell me what you found and I am thankful for your work.”
I told him that this hard little lump was not normal lymph behavior nor a general clogged lymph node. I hoped it was a calcium deposit. I told him it was important to set up a thermography appointment to get a closer look. Practitioners at the thermography found a vascular connection and that meant something was using blood flow to grow. His doctor confirmed he had less than stage 1 cancer, but cancer just getting started. My student had the lump removed and is cancer-free to this day. He was so inspired by the process and findings, he and his wife opened a thermography center and are advocates for breast care even now.
Loving and touching your own breast tissue is such an important step, I just want to leave you with that for now. Don’t pick up any other tools or remedies just yet. Simply get acquainted and befriend your breasts and make that relationship a priority for now. This is your foundation to take care of your breast health.
Next time we’ll explore more tools to aid your understanding.