Most of us have been touched by breast cancer somehow, whether we’ve had a firsthand experience in the battle or if we know someone else who has. Of course, we all have come to expect the pink shirts and ribbons that pop up in October in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness month. 

So let’s talk about getting checked. Statistically, for men and women, your chances of getting breast cancer increase as you get older. According to the Susan G. Komen foundation, rates begin to increase in women over 40 with a median age of diagnosis resting at 62. In men, the median age of diagnosis is 68. That doesn’t mean it can’t happen in people below 40. 

This week, our readers heard from a breast cancer survivor who was diagnosed at 34. Her story is not only inspiring in the way she coped or maintained a positive attitude throughout her battle; she also strikes inspiration in others because she detected the cancer herself and sought treatment right away.

Self-exams are highly recommended for young women under 40, especially if you have a family history of any type of cancer. Perhaps self-checks should be normalized for young men too. It can’t hurt. 

Take the time, before you go to bed or while you’re in the shower, maybe once a month to check yourself. Know the signs. Common symptoms include a lump in your breast or underarm that doesn’t go away, changes in the shape of the nipple, redness or swollen lymph nodes.

Don’t let fear or thinking: “It can’t happen to me,” stop you from seeking diagnosis if you need it. No one knows your own body like you do, so maybe it’s easiest to start with self-checks at home. Stay on top of your health for yourself and your family.

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