She's now in remission from her stage-four metastatic breast cancer, but Erin Smith Chieze wants the world to know the important way she discovered her illness. Turns out, she only realized she might have cancer after she discovered what breast cancer looks like, rather than feels like.
After all, we all know how important breast self-exams are to detecting breast cancer early. But for Smith Chieze, it was the appearance of her breasts that led to her life-saving discovery.
And the strange thing that helped her do so? Lemons. (Don't worry, we'll explain!)
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The young woman posted a picture created by the Worldwide Breast Cancer group that she believes saved her life. In the picture is an egg carton filled with various lemons of different shapes and textures, along with words to explain the unusual changes to the breast--indentations, dimpling, redness--that might mean an urgent trip to a doctor is in order.
It's a smart idea to spread awareness--and it's effective.
“In December of 2015, when I saw an indentation that looked like one of those pictures, I instantly knew I had breast cancer,” she wrote. "I tried to feel for a tumor, but my tumor was non-palpable. I was diagnosed with breast cancer five days later and with stage-4 the following month."
“I knew all about self-exams, but a picture of what to look for keyed me into knowing I had a terminal disease," wrote Smith Chieze, who believes that without that picture, she wouldn't have known what to look for on her body.
While a "lemon test" to check your breasts is important, it's no replacement for crucial self-exams and for an exam by a medical professional. Still, we're happy that lemons can help serve as a good reminder to pay close attention to our bodies in order to protect our precious health.
Edie Falco: Breast cancer, 2004 Falco kept her treatment a secret from her Sopranos co-stars. “Surviving cancer has a way of making you re-prioritize," she's said. In her case, it meant starting a family.