October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month – a reminder for women to take their breast health seriously.
“Regular breast examinations are crucial for early detection and treatment of breast cancer,” says Stasha Jordan, breastfeeding activist and executive director of the South African Breastmilk Reserve (SABR). According to the World Health Organisation (WHO) there are about 1.38 million new cases and 458 000 deaths from breast cancer each year. The majority of deaths are caused by lack of awareness when women are diagnosed too late for treatment to be effective.*
“Not many people know that breastfeeding decreases a woman’s chance of contracting breast cancer, especially if they breastfeed for longer than a year,” says Jordan. “Maintaining good breast health is not only about protecting your own life – it also means you will be able to provide the optimal diet of breast milk to your own babies and even save other babies’ lives.”
How To Do A Breast Self-Examination
CANSA encourage women to conduct breast self-examinations once a month in front of a mirror, whilst lying down and while bathing**.
- In front of the mirror, check for any changes in the normal look and feel of your breasts, such as dimpling, size difference or nipple discharge.
- Inspect in four ways: with your arms at your side, arms overhead, firmly pressing hands on hips and bending forward.
- Lie with a pillow under your right shoulder and your right hand under your head.
- Use the four fingers of your left hand to make small circular motions whilst pressing firmly, moving up and down across your entire breast area.
- Repeat this using the right hand on the left breast. Any change that you notice should be discussed with your doctor.
The South African Breastmilk Reserve
SABR encourages mothers to breastfeed their babies exclusively for the first six months and to donate breast milk to the SABR banks located across the country. Donated breastmilk is pasteurised and fed through a tube to premature babies in neonatal intensive care units who are not strong enough to suckle from their mothers who in turn struggle to supply their own breast milk. “Those very sick and underweight babies desperately need the nutrients contained in breast milk in order to build up the strength to fight other infections. It is staggering to see what a difference breast milk can make to the health of a baby,” says Jordan.
To get involved and alleviate the challenges faced by the SABR, including low breastfeeding rates in South Africa, sourcing donor mothers, and funding for the operation of the milk-banks, please visit www.sabr.org.za or call 011 482 1920 or e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
SOURCE: LARA DE STADLER – DOTGOOD.