October is Breast Cancer Awareness month! A time to shine a spotlight on how important it is to take care of our ta-tas and really get to know ‘your girls’! It is estimated that over 18 000 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in 2018 alone, making it the most commonly diagnosed form of cancer in Australia. While our survival rates are pretty good (91%) there’s no mistaking that there is a significant toll on the ongoing mental and physical health and well being of those affected and early detection and intervention plays a role in minimising this.
As an occupational therapist and lymphoedema therapist who specialises in working with women post breast cancer, I see all kinds of boobs, chests, lumps, bumps, scarring and all kinds of relationships that women have with all of the above. And that’s the thing – we may not have total control over what we’re sporting on our chest but we DO have control over the kind of relationship that we have with it. So, what kind of relationship do you have with your breasts and chest?
Are they healthy?
Could you recognise if there was a change?
Are they loved up?
I’m going to share with you why they should be and my top 5 breast health tips that can help make that happen.
1. Keep it au naturel
When it comes to putting things on, near or around your breasts, keep it plain and simple – keep it natural! To be honest, that should really go for all over your body. So many body products such as deodorants, creams, cosmetics and make up products can have harmful and quite frankly, alarming ingredients that can tamper with hormones. Not only that, but when your system is overloaded with toxins your body protects you by hiding them in your fat and guess what breasts are largely made up of? Yep, fatty tissue. Not to mention your large collection of lymphatic nodes and vessels in and around your armpits… Let’s just keep this area clean and free of toxins shall we?
2. Set them free
Let the girls breathe! For your lymphatic system to do it’s job and keep your boobs healthy by draining toxins, it needs to move! Your lymphatic system largely relies on movement to pump it, so strapping the girls down 24/7 is inhibiting your lymphatic flow. A nice soft material bra that allows for some gentle movement throughout the day is ideal but I know for some people that is just not enough support. Whatever your support of choice is throughout the day though, make sure you allow some time when you get home to take it off, give your breasts their time to shine, or move at least. Which brings me to number three.
3. Touch yourself
You heard me. It’s OK to touch yourself and show your breasts some love, heck, it’s actually damn important! Get to know your girls. That’s how you identify lumps and bumps early, by knowing what your ‘normal’ is! Breasts can be naturally lumpy and bumpy so it’s important to know what’s normal for you. As well as deepening that connection with yourself, you’ll also be improving your lymphatic flow! I have a Self Love Lymphatic Breast Massage that I like to share with women to:
a) build connection
b) improve lymphatic flow
c) improve circulation and
d) it can help with tenderness and soreness particularly around your cycle time
But you don’t really need a fancy pants technique. Even just a gentle rub when you take your bra off or in the shower will do and something is better than nothing.
4. Get oily
I LOVE essential oils for so many reasons and they form part of my toolkit of natural self care in so many areas. Breast health is no exception. Some of my favourite oils for breast health include:
– Lavender: to support circulation and invoke feelings of calm, great to use before bed.
– Geranium: used by the Egyptians to promote clear, glowing skin, geranium also supports emotional well being, circulation and scarring.
– Rose: to lift your mood, support libido, nurture your skin and provide anti inflammatory benefits to your breasts.
– Frankincense: for cellular health and it’s anti-inflammatory properties.
– Lemongrass: for cleansing your energy, letting go of the old and supporting lymphatic drainage.
– Helichrysum: helps to boost collagen and support tissue repair. So this one is for my ladies with mastectomies, reconstructions or implants.
My Self Love Lymphatic Breast Massage blend:
In a 10ml roller bottle:
– 20 drops Geranium
– 20 drops Lavender
– 10 drops Lemongrass
– Top with Fractionated coconut oil
5. Know what to look for
It’s important that you know what warning signs to look for with your breasts and even more important that you act on them! Majority of breast lumps are not cancerous, so don’t panic, but it is still important to get them checked. If you notice any of the following, make an appt with your Dr:
– lumps and/or areas of thickened tissue
– reddened areas or rashes
– dimpling of the skin on the breast
– changes in nipple appearance (colour, size, nipple inverting)
– heat and/or pain in breast area (not related to your period)
– change in size
– swelling in armpit
– discharge from the nipple
If you would like a copy of my Self Love Lymphatic Breast Massage you can request one here for free! If you would like to purchase the highest quality essential oils to use with your massage you can purchase them here.
So here’s to happy, healthy, loved up breasts and chests everywhere!
Let’s spread the love ladies
Do you enjoy learning techniques to take care of your body at home or while on the move? As well as our studio space in Currumbin, we offer an Online Community where members enjoy a range of exclusive class videos and tutorials to better their health. It’s a great way to make time for you and continue treating your body with love when you can’t make it into the studio, if you live outside the Gold Coast or are on vacation. Learn more here.