Me-time is self-care, and this includes monitoring your health. Breast cancer is an illness that must be monitored year-round, as early detection is one of the best ways to improve its survival rate. Something as simple as doing breast self-examinations (BSE) regularly can help detect any lump or abnormality and allow you to report them early to your doctor.
Breast cancer remains as one of the most common cancers among Filipino women, affecting three in every 100 Filipinas that will be diagnosed within their lifetime, according to the Philippine Statistics of Authority and the Department of Health (DOH). Regular monitoring for women is crucial. Here is a quick BSE guide from the DOH that can be executed virtually anywhere, and is recommended to be done monthly, three to five days after a woman’s period ends:
In front of a mirror: Stand before a mirror with your arms at your side. Inspect your breast for any changes in the size, shape, or contour and check for swelling, dimpling or puckering of the skin. Gently squeeze each nipple and check for discharge. Next, put your hands on your hips and press down firmly, elbows out. Repeat the inspection. Finally, raise your arms over your head and repeat the inspection. Normally, your left breast and right breast will not look exactly the same but through regular inspection, you will know what when something is out of the ordinary for you.
In the shower: Your hands will move easier over wet skin so it is easier for you to examine your breast during a bath or shower. Use your right hand to examine your left breast and your left hand for your right breast. Keep your fingers flat. Move them gently in circular motions over every part of each breast. Check for any lump, hard knot, or thickening.
Lying down: Lie flat on your back and place a pillow or folded towel under your left shoulder. Put your left arm under your head. Then, press gently but firmly your flattened fingers to your breast and move in circular motions. Use the three middle fingers and apply three levels of pressure in a circular motion, following an up and down pattern. Check for any lump, hard knot or thickening.
Breast clock examination: This is a methodical way of checking your breast for any lump, hard knot, or thickening. First, imagine your breast as a clock. Start at the outermost part of your breast or the 12 o’clock position. Then move on to the 1 o’clock position around the imaginary clock face until you are back to the 12 o’clock position. Examine every part of your breast. You will need to make at least three circles to complete the examination on each breast. Move your hand over your breast in a downward and upward motion. Check for any irregularity. Finally, squeeze the nipple of each breast between thumb and forefinger. Report any discharge to a doctor right away.
Aside from BSEs, it is also important to ensure you are ready should the unexpected happen, especially if you have a higher risk of developing breast cancer.
Getting diagnosed with critical illnesses such as cancer is an unpredictable part of life and can happen to anyone at any time. It pays to be prepared for whatever life may bring, and AXA Philippines’ wide range of health products can help you protect yourself and your loved ones. The company also recently launched its “Make Time for Me-Time” campaign and is shining the spotlight on the importance of taking time for self-care, cementing the company’s commitment to being a part of every Filipino’s self-care journey through its wide range of health solutions that cover critical illnesses.
These products include Global Health Access, AXA’s best-in-class comprehensive health plan with coverage for executive checkups, including women-specific tests such sonograms, mammograms, among others. It offers up to ₱175 million in hospitalization coverage for critical illnesses specific to women, including cancer of the breast and uterus, and cash benefits for pregnant women via reimbursements for female vitamins and supplements. Meanwhile, Health Care Access provides a comprehensive approach in taking care of yourself starting from preventive care up until diagnosis with coverage for medical consultation, lab tests, and diagnostics, to hospitalization, and treatment. Both products also cover mental health counselling until December 31, 2022.
AXA Philippines also has Health Start which covers critical illnesses with an option to include coverage for your child, while Health Start Lite provides you and your child with coverage against the top three critical illnesses – heart attack, cancer, and stroke – and nine minor critical illnesses for as low as ₱535 a month.
AXA urges women to continue the habit of doing regular BSEs and take time for their health. To further encourage self-checks, the company also worked with longtime partner Liverpool Football Club (Liverpool FC) for the ‘In Safe Hands’ campaign, which raises awareness on early detection of breast cancer and testicular cancer. The campaign promotes early detection of breast cancer as diagnosis at Stage 1 gives a survival rate of 99% in the next five years. Liverpool FC goalkeepers and AXA doctors also collaborated on videos demonstrating how to properly do self-checks to help guide the public.
For more information on AXA’s health products, visit axa.com.ph/health-protection.