October is breast cancer awareness month. According to cancer.org, breast cancer is the second leading cause of death for women and Black women have the highest death rate from the disease. Every October, we are reminded of the shocking statistics and how essential preventive measures are. Normani has joined the conversation about breast cancer among Black women after sharing that her mother has been diagnosed with the disease for a second time. One of the things she learned from her mom was the importance of breast self-exams.
“I watched my mother find her own lumps both times she had breast cancer,” Normani said according to ESSENCE. “She taught me the importance of looking out for changes in your breasts and educated me on what mammograms were at an early age.”
Along with self-exams, the “Motivation” singer, who is also an ambassador with the American Cancer Society, wants people to look into genetic testing. “I also encourage anyone who has a family member with cancer to see that your family talks to a doctor about genetic testing,” she said. “We have taken these measures as a family. Knowledge is power, so whatever you don’t know, don’t be afraid to ask.”
Jazmine Sullivan has also been fighting to disseminate information to the Black community about breast cancer after her mom was diagnosed with the disease in 2019. She fought the disease but unfortunately, the singer revealed during her recent One Music Fest performance that it came back.
The “Pick Up Your Feelings” singer echoed the same sentiments as Normani about knowing your family’s history. In a 2021 interview with Yahoo, Jazmine shared steps she’s taken to minimize her risk of the disease. “Setting up my own mammogram, talking to my mother about our family history,” she said. “What was crazy is that she actually has a sister that had breast cancer twice. So it really shouldn't have been as shocking as it was in our family, but I feel like a lot of families don't really talk about it.”
“And that's the problem; we don't discuss our own family history with health, [which] became important to me as well [and] that trickled into the conversations that I'm having with my girlfriends.”
Breastcancer.org has listed a step-by-step process in performing a breast self-exam. Here’s what to do:
Step 1: Stand in the mirror with your hands on your hips and exam your breasts. Check to see that everything looks the same and there aren’t any changes such as redness, rashes, inverted nipple, swelling, or bulging of the skin.
Step 2: Continue looking in the mirror but raise your arms this time. Look to see if any fluid (watery, milky, yellow fluid, or blood) is coming out of your nipples.
Step 3: Lay down and check your breasts for any lumps or abnormalities. Take two fingers and press down on each breast and also move them in a circular motion.
Step 4: Lastly, stand up or sit down and check your breasts for lumps or abnormalities using the same techniques in step 3.
Call your doctor if you notice any lumps or abnormalities.
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Featured image by David M. Benett/Dave Benett/Getty Images for Burberry