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Eyes Wide Open: Early Detection & Screening

Hello October! If you’re like us here on the East Coast, the air’s a bit chillier and thoughts of winter are looming. There’s the dread of catching a cold or worse the flu! But this is old hat, right? We’ll visit our doctor and see what we can do to stay ahead of the season. Yet what do we do to stay ahead of breast cancer? More importantly, what can we do? For starters, have a conversation with your doctor and understand your options. It could wind up saving your life.

As most of us know October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month - but here at EOTS - every day, week, and month is all about breast cancer awareness! So in honor of the month, and our everyday goal, we hope to raise awareness about all things breast cancer through this blog, our social media, and first and foremost: our calendar! We’ve met so many inspiring women over the last few months and have learned so much from their personal journeys with breast cancer. One consistent theme has been knowing our bodies and taking action. Within our family of survivors, two methods proven most beneficial are self-exams and mammograms so we want to flesh these out a bit more.

We believe the most basic, easiest and potentially life-saving approach to start with is a self-exam. Now, this is actually a bit debatable which is why we led with, “we believe.” It‘s interesting to note that the American Cancer Society, and other reputable breast cancer organizations, point out that research has not shown a significant benefit of physical breast exams (self or clinical) for breast cancer screening and due to this they’re not really encouraged.

To be clear, we understand their point is that screening and early detection should technically predate any actual symptoms that would be seen or felt. And of course we agree that would be the ideal situation. However, we know and continue to learn from so many women who have either found a lump or noticed a change in the visual appearance of their breasts which saved their lives in cases where without the self-exam, they wouldn’t have known period. Either they weren’t at the age where screenings are typically encouraged (more on this in bit), or they were screened and yet no cancer was detected, like our August rep Brenda Dukes who found a lump and got diagnosed after a mammogram hadn’t detected anything. And as we learned from our June rep, Corey Ayala-Fagundez, spotting a change can be just as important as feeling a lump. Corey noticed a change in the appearance of her breast, went for a mammogram, and was soon diagnosed with inflammatory breast cancer.

Because of Brenda and Corey, and the multitude of stories like theirs, we strongly encourage women to get clinical breast exams and perform self-exams – and not just with their hands but their eyes, too. For easy to follow instructions on breast self-exams, check out

ACS agrees we shouldn’t toss out exams altogether as they also note that despite the lack of support for self-exams as a screening method, “Still, all women should be familiar with how their breasts normally look and feel and report any changes to a health care provider right away.”

So let’s shift to mammograms which are widely recognized as a go-to screening method.

Mammograms are x-ray exams of the breast that use a machine created to look specifically at breast tissue. Since the x-rays are taken at lower doses than regular x-rays, the machine uses two plates that essentially flatten the breast in order to spread the tissue apart and capture the best x-ray images through the tissue.