Most people know to look for lumps and changes in breast size or shape, but a British woman shared a photo on social media after a slightly more “invisible” symptom signaled the presence of the deadly disease.
Her post quickly went viral, and it is probably saving lives.
Mother of two Claire Warner, from Lancashire in England, shared a photograph of a barely perceptible dimple on her breast. The tiny shadow, which caught Warner’s eye in her bedroom mirror as she was dressing one day, seemed inconsequential.
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It was Warner’s only indication that something was wrong, and she could so easily have missed it. But luckily, the then-42-year-old mom had seen something similar before; a post on Facebook from another woman named Lisa Royle, whose dimpled breast alerted her to her own breast cancer.
On July 1, 2016, a devastated Warner was diagnosed with breast cancer herself. However, she had caught it early. Inspired by Royle, Warner took a photo of her own breast and posted an account of her experience on Facebook, hoping that she could help other women as Royle had helped her.
“Blink and you’d miss it,” she captioned, next to the close-up photo of the dimple that helped diagnose her condition. “This is a picture of my left boob,” she explained. “The small purplish bruise is where I had a biopsy taken. The minuscule dimple up and to the left of it is a rare and little-known symptom of breast cancer.”
Warner then urged both men and women to check themselves for the same symptom. The NHS advises that while 90 percent of breast abnormalities aren’t cancerous, it’s always best to have them checked out by your physician.
Warner was initially embarrassed to expose her bare breast to thousands of social media users, but the influx of grateful messages helped to ease her discomfort. “When I get messages saying, ‘because of your photo, I didn’t ignore this and went to the doctor,'” Warner admitted, speaking to Today, “it definitely makes the embarrassment worthwhile.”
With 69,000 shares and counting, it seems that Warner’s invaluable message is reaching all the right people.
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“[My dimple] was even more subtle than the picture I had seen,” Warner later revealed. “[Royle] has probably saved my life,” the grateful mom continued, adding: “Had I not seen that Facebook post, I would not have done anything about it.”
“It was only right that I did the same.”
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Dr. Anees Chagpar, director of Yale New Haven Health’s Breast Center, advised that regular breast screenings are the very best preventative measure. “Screening mammography often finds cancers at an earlier stage,” she said, “before they cause a mass or any other physical exam findings, such as dimpling.”
“However, when a patient finds skin changes,” the doctor advised, “they should have those checked out because they can be one of the signs of breast cancer.”
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Warner was rushed into treatment. However, despite her early identification of the cancer, Warner’s doctors quickly discovered that Warner’s tumor was larger than they anticipated. The brave mom of two endured 12 rounds of chemotherapy, a mastectomy, and lymph node removal in March of 2017.
Warner is now in remission.
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“I feel really, really well,” she shared, indicating that she was still aware that the cancer could return. “Most of the time, I’m fine,” she continued, “[but] I’m still worried.”
Armed with the knowledge of what to look out for, we very much hope that Warner stays healthy and cancer-free long into the future. Be sure to spread this message among your loved ones; it could very well end up saving a life.
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