If you're a woman, you've likely been asked in the last few weeks to post a heart emoji on your Facebook profile page. The idea was launched as a secret-code way to remind and encourage women to perform a monthly breast exam to check for potential cancer. The idea is cute, but some breast cancer survivors scoff at the secrecy.
Erin Chieze, a stage 4 breast cancer survivor, recently posted a response to the heart emoji campaign on Facebook with a photo showing women exactly what to look for when it comes to breast cancer signs and symptoms.
Chieze posted the "lemon photo," pictured above. In it, you can see many different signs that could indicate a problem with your breasts. Chieze noted that she was frustrated with campaigns that made a "game" out of breast cancer without giving women any real information.
An impassioned plea
"Someone once posted a picture on Facebook of what breast cancer can look like," Chieze wrote. "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."
I'll be the first to admit that I frequently forget to do my monthly self-exams, so I find the heart emoji campaign helpful. But the photo Chieze posted of the Know Your Lemons campaign showed me for the first time what I should be looking for. Sure, I knew to check for lumps, but I really had no idea about all of the other signs that could indicate a problem.
The photo will stick with me — and it's armed me with valuable information that I hope and pray I'll never need.