MiB is pleased to
introduce Sally E. Smith
Sally E. Smith is a passionate supporter and advocate for plus-size women. She has been the editor-in-chief for BBW Magazine and was the executive director of NAAFA for 11 years. She is also a long-time MiB customer and we are very excited to feature a series of her articles written from the perspective of a plus size woman.
October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month
Love Your Body, Love Your Breasts
Not only does this mean
rejecting the idealized feminine shape propagated by the media and learning to
appreciate your curves, but it also means taking responsibility for your health
For many of us, it’s easier to cultivate our minds and nurture our spirits than it is to safeguard our physical health. Many of us who have been plus size all of our lives emerged as adults with battered body images and low self-esteem, and feel as though we’re not worth the effort. Some of us – regardless of when we entered the community of plus-size women – experience a disconnect with our bodies that prevents us from caring for our health.
That is precisely why this
month is so significant for our community. October commemorates both Love
Your Body Day and Breast Cancer Awareness Month, two concepts that
can be extremely uncomfortable for us as plus-size women.
Let’s face it: monitoring our breast health isn’t always easy. Doing monthly
breast self-exams can bring up body image issues that are sometimes easier to
avoid. Because many of us are large-breasted, it’s often confusing and difficult
to do a thorough self-examination. And, when it comes to the other components of
breast health – clinical breast exams and mammograms – our experiences with the
medical profession often cause us to avoid getting the care we need.
Referring to a
gynecological care study she co-authored, Pat Lyons, RN, MA, noted, “We found
that as weight increased, women faced increased barriers – including negative
attitudes of providers, gowns and equipment that did not fit their bodies, being
weighed at every visit, and receiving unsolicited weight loss advice regardless
of the reason for their visit.”
Research has proven what many of us already know: the larger we are, the less likely we are to seek gynecological care. Given that clinical breast exams and mammograms are most often performed in conjunction with gynecological exams, if we’re not going in for our PAP smears, then our breast health is also neglected.
While it’s true that women
who have a family history of breast cancer can be at greater risk for getting
the disease, the primary risk factor for breast cancer is simply being female.
The statistics are startling: one out of every eight women will be diagnosed
with breast cancer, and the vast majority of women who are diagnosed have no
family history of the disease.
there is good news as well. Experts agree that early detection and treatment is
key to survival. According to the American Cancer Society, when breast cancer is
caught and treated before it spreads to other parts of the body, the five-year
survival rate is 98 percent. For us, this means that we must love our bodies
enough to get the breast health care we need and deserve.
The leading breast cancer
advocacy organization, Susan G. Komen for the Cure, recommends that women ages
20 to 39 perform a monthly breast self-exam (just as your period is ending) and
have a clinical breast exam every three years. Women who are 40 and older should
perform a monthly breast self-exam and have a clinical breast exam and mammogram
once a year.
you have trepidations about going to the doctor, there are actions you can take
to overcome the barriers Pat Lyons outlined:
Loving your body
encompasses loving and caring for your breasts. A good first step is to take the
breast health pledge and commit to doing a monthly breast self-exam and getting
a clinical breast exam and/or mammogram (depending on your age).
can even take the pledge online at Yoplait’s BeABreastCancerChampion.com
and receive a monthly reminder about your self-exam. For a printable breast
self-exam card and more information about breast cancer, visit the Susan G.
Komen for the Cure website at www.komen.org
Remember – you deserve it!