So recently, I developed a craving for a particular type of sour and mildly bitter citrus fruit. Lemons! Not grapes… (I know…especially in Nigeria they can get confused).

What an interesting enough fruit to look at, with it’s almost oval shape, the textured exterior that doesn’t always indicate it’s ripen state.

Aside from its nutritional benefits, the thing I find almost ironic is that, they kind of look like breasts if halved, hahaha!

Okay…. forget the texture for a moment now and just imagine half a medium sizes lemon…. with it’s prominent “nipple” …. anyways, I think it looks like a female’s breasts.

Speaking of breasts, though a female, I would shamelessly admit that I’m obsessed with them… (now boys, focus!).

I notice those particular “lemons” everywhere I go, in the bus on my way to work, at work where I see a fair amount and of course at home where I pay particular attention to the size, shape, texture of those “lemons” I see in my bedroom’s mirror.

Every month, without fail I exam them, like I would if I wanted to buy some edible lemons to make lemonade.

Frankly speaking, October ushered me into more appreciation for my “lemons”. October is World Health Organization’s Breast Cancer Awareness Month and there is no better time to become acquainted with your breasts!

Breast self-exam can be an important way to find a breast cancer early, when it’s likely to be treated successfully.

While no single test can detect all breastcancers early, healthynaija.ng believes that performing breast self-exam in combination with other screening methods (which will be discussed in following blog posts) can increase the odds of early detection.

HOW TO DO A BREAST SELF-EXAM: IN 5 STEPS

STEP 1: Begin by looking at your breasts in mirror with shoulders straight and arms on your hips…like you’re about to do an old-fashion self-portrait. Now, you check out the size, shape and colour of those lemons, make sure they are their usual selves.

STEP 2: Now, raise your arms and look for the same features as before.

STEP 3: While still at the mirror, look for any signs of discharge coming out from either nipple (this could be a watery, milky, or yellow fluid or blood).

STEP 4: Next, feel your breasts while lying down, using pads of your fingers, with a smooth firm touch, keeping your fingers flat, make increasingly circular motions from the nipples to cover the entire globe of each breast.

This time you check for any lumps, changes in texture/thickness, unusually firm skin/tissue.

STEP 5: Finally, while upright feel your breasts again as before, but this time also fill the areas around the breasts (underneath, by the sides) and your armpits.

Since the tissue and texture of breasts change with hormonal and age it is recommended that women in childbearing age should do a self-exam at the end of each period when the breast are less tender/engrossed, while postmenopausal women should perform theirs on the same day monthly.

I will leave you with this parting shot! ” A cancerous lump usually feels hard and immovable like a lemon seed; it can be any shape or size.

If you notice any of the above symptoms don’t panic, see a medical doctor immediately.

Pharm. Udeogalanya, Ezinwanne

(Intern Pharmacist at University of Abuja Teaching Hospital, Nigeria and the Lead Editor www.healthynaija.ng).

References; www.who.org, www.breastcancer.org, The American Cancer Society.

Picture is courtesy of worldwide breast cancer awareness: the know your lemons campaign