It’s October, Breast Cancer awareness month and today I am sharing my experiences of finding a lump in my breast and what to do about it. As we all get older, it’s ever more important to regularly check your breasts. The older we get, the more likely breast cancer is to rear its ugly head. 81% of breast cancer diagnoses are in women over the age of 50. But first, how to check your breasts.
How to check your breasts
Today I am flagging the subject yet again, because I have so often repeatedly heard at the Haven, (the breast cancer charity I set up nearly 20 years ago now) the stories of people who found a lump and ignored it and later came to regret it. Or, people who found a lump and went to their doctor, who told them it was nothing, when it turned out it actually was something.
I have only two things to say here.
1. If you find a lump, and it doesn’t go away after a week or so, please, please make an appointment to see your doctor. It may well be nothing to worry about. 80% of lumps are benign - but 20% are something more serious, so be safe and get it checked immediately.
2. Start doing something about it yourself. If your doctor is anything like mine, you may well have to wait quite a few days to get an appointment and there are a few things that can make a difference during that time.
I found a lump in my right armpit about two months ago, and despite being pretty certain it was nothing to do with cancer, I panicked thoroughly for a while before pulling myself together. Amazing how frightening the thought of cancer and its treatment is. Horrible images immediately flood your mind. The lump I found was about 1cm in diameter, hard, and I could feel all round it with my fingers.
I had been swimming in a polluted Mediterranean sea and, logically, I was sure that it was only my body reacting to the toxins, gathering them together in one place before attempting to get rid of them. But I made a doctors appointment nonetheless and then got on with trying to make that lump vanish before I had to go and see him.
I decided it was all about my lymph. Lymph is the clear, water like fluid that flushes toxins from your cells and carries them away. You also have around 500-700 lymph nodes around your body. These act as filters. The lymph fluid moves from one to another, getting cleaned as it moves. They are full of white blood cells (lymphocytes) that trap and destroy any viruses or bacteria that may have wriggled their way past your defences.
The nodes are where you usually first find that lump, in your neck, or under your arm, or in your breast, and the majority of times the swelling is purely due to the battle going on between the white cells and the germs they are attacking. I presumed that that was happening with my lump but I wanted to help the lymphocytes as much as I could, to stimulate my entire lymph system to make sure its army was fighting fit.
I did three things.
1. Firstly, I bounced. I found my nephew's trampoline and borrowed it for that week while I was waiting. Bouncing stimulates your lymphatic system, which carries away and disposes of the waste around your cells. Anecdotally (obviously is not considered fact by the medical profession), regular bouncing has shrunk, and sometimes got rid of, lumps of all kinds. Even cancer lumps. Worth a shot I thought, and easy to do - and I had also forgotten how much fun it is. Take action, stimulate your body’s own healing system and help yourself heal yourself. That was my theory.
2. I met a very wise American lymphatic specialist once, and she told me that often a breast lump is very tiny to start with but grows larger and larger as toxins and cellular waste attaches to it. She would gently rub around the lump and its surrounding area and find that more often than not, over time, the lump would diminish in size and often disappear entirely.
Breast massage is something we should all do regularly. What we forget is that our breasts sit stagnant all day long in their bras. They are stationary as you sit at your desk. They don’t move much while you are sleeping. Even while you are exercising, doing those daily weights or running on a treadmill, your breasts are firmly constrained so they don’t jig around and interrupt your session. And that’s the point, if they don’t jig about, the lymph can’t move around and ‘flush’ them out. And as a result congestion builds. So, massage your breasts regularly and get that lymph flowing. (See next weeks blog for what to do and how to do it).
I massaged like mad, daily (very gently, obviously, and for about 20 minutes at a time) and found a remarkable difference in the texture and congestion in the area. It all loosened and my hard lump became much softer. The more I massaged, the deeper I could go into the tissue around it.
Then I booked a full body lymph massage, to stimulate the lymph all over my body and make sure they were in fighting form to focus on breaking down my unwelcome visitor. Lymphatic massage is incredibly gentle. It feels as if you are hardly being touched at all, but lymph respond to lightness of touch so don’t underestimate the technique.
3. Lastly, I reached for the colloidal silver, my go-to remedy for all things out of the ordinary. Silver has been successfully used for healing for centuries. If it could heal bubonic plague back in the Middle Ages, along with tuberculosis and leprosy, then modern day problems such as viruses, bacteria, shingles and herpes are a walk in the park for its remarkable powers.
Colloidal silver is a natural anti-biotic and has been shown to affect more than 650 diseases, boosting the immune system and with no side effects of any kind. Compare that to the average six diseases affected by a ‘normal’ antibiotic and I know which odds I go for. My theory was that an unidentified lump would be pretty simple for it to deal with. Especially after all that lymph stimulating which would carry the colloidal silver directly to the root of the problem.
And reader, it did. I went to the doctor 8 days later. Just to be sure, and so he could check more thoroughly than I. But there was definitely no longer anything there, and I walked home deeply relieved. Once again, holistic health had done its thing, proving as ever that conventional and complementary medicine each have a valid role in the process of healing.
One last word here though, again based on the stories and the regrets I heard at the Haven. If your lump doesn’t go away, and your doctor continues to tell you it’s nothing to worry about and doesn’t need testing, please find another doctor, and get a second opinion. And a third if you still don’t feel happy. You know your body far better than anyone else. Listen to it. If it doesn’t feel right to you, it may well not be. Take the management of your health back into your own hands. You only have one body. Who better to look after it than you?
Written by health advocate Sara Davenport, who founded one of the UK's largest breast cancer charities, The Haven, twenty years ago. With Reboot Health, Sara aims to bring the best preventative and curative health solutions ranging from nutrition, alternative therapies, fitness and conventional medicine.
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