This Carton of Lemons Teaches a Lesson About Breast Cancer Symptoms

The average risk of a woman in the United States developing breast cancer in her life is about 12 percent, per the American Cancer Society. This translates to a 1 in 8 chance, and the American Cancer Society estimates that in 2018, about 266,120 new cases will be diagnosed. Of those, about 63,960 new cases of carcinoma in situ (also known as CIS) will be diagnosed, which is important to remember because this is the earliest form of breast cancer and is non-invasive.

About 40,920 women will die from breast cancer in 2018, per the American Cancer Society's estimates. These numbers can be shocking if you're just starting to pay attention to your breast health. Luckily, there are many resources out there designed to raise breast cancer awareness.

One of these resources is a viral, friendly image of lemons that has gone viral around the internet featuring the rare symptoms, as well as a common sign, of breast cancer. The National Breast Cancer Foundation recommends that all adult women perform a self-exam at least once a month, but it can be hard to know or understand what exactly you're looking for. That's where Know Your Lemons comes in. Part of Worldwide Breast Cancer, a US-based nonprofit that focus on global breast health education, they create educational tools that help those in need self-diagnose breast cancer.

While a Facebook post from Erin Smith Chieze, shown below, went viral last year featuring just one of the educational images, we've compiled four from Worldwide Breast Cancer that every woman and man should see to combat the terminal disease in its earliest stages.

1. The 12 Signs of Breast Cancer

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Worldwide Breast Cancer

This photo of a dozen lemons in an egg carton show the abnormalities to look out for when performing a self-exam. Here are the 12 signs listed.

  • Thick area
  • Dimple
  • Nipple crust
  • Red or hot
  • Bump
  • Sunken nipple
  • Unexpected fluid
  • Skin sores
  • "Orange peel" skin
  • Hard lump
  • Growing vein
  • New shape or size

The sunken nipple is also referred to as a retracted nipple. Unexpected fluid can come in the form of a bloody discharge or a clear fluid. "Orange peel" skin refers to skin texture.

To learn more about the meaning of each sign, Worldwide Breast Cancer does an excellent job of explaining on their website.

2. How to Identify a Cancerous Lump

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Worldwide Breast Cancer

The best time to check for a cancerous lump is at the end of your period. They often feel hard and, according to Worldwide Breast Cancer, immovable, though they can be in any shape or size.

3. How to Spot Breast Cancer

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Worldwide Breast Cancer

This handy infographic details the steps in case you find a suspicious symptom during your self-exam.

This friendly image makes understanding the steps to a breast cancer screening less clinical and more conversational.

4. Understand Your Risk

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Worldwide Breast Cancer

This printable, also found here on Worldwide Breast Cancer, defines your risk. This is meant to be used as a conversation starter at your doctor's office to facilitate a healthy and comfortable conversation about your physical health.

Here's the viral post that started it all, featuring the famous egg carton photo showing breast cancer symptoms, like the inverted nipple.

In the past few days, I have received quite a few private messages about a "game" going around where you post a heart,...

Posted by Erin Smith Chieze on Tuesday, January 10, 2017

The full transcript of the post is below.

In the past few days, I have received quite a few private messages about a "game" going around where you post a heart, then you are secretly supposed to state it is for breast cancer awareness. This is my response to all of these messages.

Someone once posted a picture on Facebook of what breast cancer can look like. Not feel, but look like. In December of 2015 when I saw an indentation that looked like one of those pictures, I instantly knew I had breast cancer. I tried to feel for a tumor, but my tumor was non palpable. I was diagnosed with breast cancer 5 days later and with stage 4 the following month. A heart did nothing for awareness. I knew what breast cancer was. I knew all about self exams, but a picture of what to look for keyed me into knowing I had a terminal disease. We need to give REAL information, not cute hearts. Without having seen a picture randomly with real information, I wouldn't have known what to look for. Do us a favor, stop playing games with my life and start truly helping people. Metastatic breast cancer treatment research and real awareness.

This is a photo I have found that is very similar to the one I originally saw. PLEASE, stop playing games that do not actually promote awareness, they often cause people to tune out anything that might even mention the word awareness. So if you truly want to help people WITH cancer, or those who will GET cancer, share photos like this one. I wish I remembered who posted the original picture I saw, it truly did make a difference for me.

I found this photo at https://www.worldwidebreastcancer.org/

Editing to add. I have been contacted by the designer for the photograph that I have used Corrine Ellsworth Beaumont and while I did cite the URL that I found the picture from, I would also like to add the Facebook page of the organization that started the know your lemons campaign. Credit absolutely must be given to the wonderful people who are working so hard to get accurate and memorable information out to the public. I just happened upon this photo and used it in order to make my point, but I am SO thankful that other women and men may see this and know what they are possibly looking at and seek immediate medical attention.

Breast cancer awareness is important to catching the breast cells in their earliest stages of growth, so please share this with friends and family. To learn more, visit the American Cancer Society and Worldwide Breast Cancer.

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