As October comes around, many people automatically think of haunted houses, pumpkins and scary movies. October is also the season of pink ribbons, survivor stories and charity walks.
Whether you are a survivor, or you have a friend or family member who had it, Breast Cancer Awareness Month is a reminder for women (and a few men) to be proactive with their health.
Early detection is very important and can be achieved through breast exams. Breast exams can be administered by a doctor, or you can do it at home yourself. However, I shocked to learn that many women my age have not done either, and some were not open to talking about it.
Many of their reactions shocked me. There was a generally uncomfortable aura that filled the room. Unfortunately, many young women also haven't visited a gynecologist for a routine pelvic exam or pap smear (which every young woman is recommended to get once they turn 21).
In my experience, many young women shy away from discussing issues pertaining to their reproductive health. Discussions about periods, vaginas and even boobs are often hushed. But why?
Ladies. We have to be more open with our bodies. We have to be willing to talk about our health issues. Periods, boobs and vaginas are not limit topics.
In fact, they are issues that we should be more proactive about. Being able to talk about concerns you have with your body can be more effective than looking to Google for answers.
Willingness to talk about issues is the first step of breaking the stigma. It is also the first step of advocacy.
If you don't feel comfortable talking about your body concerns with your friends, don't hesitate to talk to a doctor. Encourage your friends to examine their breasts, even if it's an uncomfortable conversation, it can be a step in saving someone's life.
One of the first symptoms of breast cancer is breast abnormalities like swelling or lumps, which you can detect in an exam. You can learn how to perform a self-exam here.