Breasts are more than just the tasty white meat on chicken and turkeys. They are a part of the human anatomy. But they are also the subject of many cultural messages, which change with the times. Kerry Anne McGinn has also discovered that the breast of young women are often in flux. That was the case with her when she was a young mother of four. The professional nurse experienced a lot of benign breast changes, had a slew of biopsies, and was referred by a surgeon as a “cyst farm.” From her experience with frightening news and her search for answers, she has discovered something worth sharing. Her book, The Young Woman’s Breast Health Book, is a volume which has evolved over the years.
During her presentation at Austin’s BookWoman on Tuesday, March 12, McGinn read from her book; and shared how she came to write it. After years of breast self-exams (BSEs), cyst discoveries, biopsies and suspicious areas discovered during her first set of mammograms; she found out that there was not nearly enough information about benign breast disorders. She met a woman who was passionate about teaching females about what is going on with their breasts, and taught them how to become really acquainted with that part of their bodies.
She explained that a conversation held by some of her female friends after a dance class also clued her in on how scared some women are about their breast issues. She thought they were more scared than they needed to be. The conversation that she overheard is included, verbatim, in her book. It seemed to echo the sentiments of many women. “My doctor found something in my breast yesterday,” were the words which kicked off the post-class conversation.
She talked to genetic risk counselors, nurses, radiologists, surgeons, pathologists, and others who she thought could contribute to the discourse about breast health. McGinn felt that women need to know when to relax, when to worry, and what to do. She believes her book provides this information.
Also included in the book are some much-needed information, as follows:
- What to do about pain. “Breast pain is really common,” she stated.
- Cultural breast messages in this country.
- What’s inside the breast.
- Common things that happen to breasts.
- Breast cancer risks. She shared that she thinks statistics tend to sometimes be misleading.
- Factors that make risk go up and down.
- Screening and early detection. She believes that women need a more sophisticated view of what they need to do).
- MRI’s and ultrasounds.
- Diagnosing conditions.
- What biopsies are like.
There is also a controversial chapter, that offers some points of agreement and disagreement about breast cancer.
Very personable, engaging and informed; McGinn seems like the go-to person for breast awareness and breast health; particularly for young women. Describing her own experience, she stated, “Nothing was too awful, but it was scary every time.” After suspicious areas were found in her breast, she did what a lot of women would probably do. As she tells it, “I really freaked out.”
Although I didn’t read her book, I did see it I believe a reader of this title may come away with enough information to give them a comfortable level of knowledge, make experiences less scary, and keep them from needlessly freaking out.