For Glamour, by Jessica Militare.
Breast cancer is incredibly common in America: One in eight U.S. women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in her lifetime. With those scary facts, it’s so important to get to know your own body, your breasts, and what to look out for when it comes to early warning signs of breast cancer so you can be informed when you talk to your doctor. That is why one Facebook user is trying to help other women get in the know — with a photo of lemons that’s been shared more than 22,000 times.
Hoping to get the word out about breast cancer awareness, survivor Erin Chieze posted the photo below and opened up about her breast cancer story. The thorough graphic, which comes from the Worldwide Breast Cancer organization’s Know Your Lemons campaign, offers an easy-to-visualize guide to the physical signs and symptoms men and women should be aware of when doing a self-exam. The image reminds us that knowledge of signs should go beyond just the presence or absence of a lump.
“The image reminds us that knowledge of signs should go beyond just the presence or absence of a lump.”
”In December of 2015 when I saw an indentation that looked like one of those pictures, I instantly knew I had breast cancer,” Chieze wrote. “I tried to feel for a tumor, but my tumor was nonpalpable. I was diagnosed with breast cancer five days later, and with stage 4 the following month,” she explained. “I knew what breast cancer was. I knew all about self-exams, but a picture of what to look for keyed me into knowing I had a terminal disease.”
Chieze, a 38-year-old mom and nursing student, stressed that people need helpful information about breast cancer and called for an end to trivializing awareness through overly simplified social media campaigns. (The trend of women sending each other heart emojis as a reminder to get their annual breast exams triggered her initial post.) She underscored the importance of going beyond hearts and ribbons and knowing exactly what to look for.
“We need to give REAL information,” Chieze continued. “Without having seen [this] picture randomly, I wouldn’t have known what to look for. Do us a favor, stop playing games...and start truly helping people. Metastatic breast cancer treatment research and real awareness.”
The post received hundreds of comments: Some agreed with Chieze but others defended the heart sharing as a method of remembering to perform monthly exams.
Chieze told Bustle: “I just wanted to write a note to my friends and family, hoping to provide a visual tool similar to what I saw, that just might help someone else. But now knowing that this may reach a much larger audience, I feel grateful that maybe just one person out there will see it, get to their doctor, and have the chance of much greater outcomes.”
In July breast cancer survivor Claire Warner shared a photo on Facebook of a subtle symptom on her breast — skin dimpling — which garnered a lot of shares and attention. For all the negativity that social media can bring, these women’s posts show the power of the mantra “Sharing is caring” and that stories like these are vital.
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