It's a good idea to familiarize yourself with the feel of your breast tissue so that you'll know when something feels different. Serena Williams recently reminded her followers about this health advice—she released a PSA on social media about checking yourself for signs of breast cancer.
In a video on Instagram, Williams got out of her "comfort zone" to inspire fans to get in touch with their breasts.
In the video, she can be seen singing (rather well) and cupping her own chest. The song is "I Touch Myself" by the Divinyls, a cheeky '90s pop tune about having a hot and heavy crush. But in this rendition, it's much more somber and meaningful. The Divinyls lead singer Chrissy Amphlett died of breast cancer in 2013, as Elle noted.
Williams explained her involvement in the project in the video caption, writing, "This Breast Cancer Awareness Month I’ve recorded a version of The Divinyls global hit 'I Touch Myself' to remind women to self-check regularly. Yes, this put me out of my comfort zone, but I wanted to do it because it’s an issue that affects all women of all colors, all around the world. Early detection is key – it saves so many lives. I just hope this helps to remind women of that."
She continued, "The music video is part of the I Touch Myself Project which was created in honor of celebrated diva, Chrissy Amphlett, who passed away from breast cancer, and who gave us her hit song to remind women to put their health first. The project is proudly supported by @BerleiAus for Breast Cancer Network Australia."
Berlei is the same company that makes Williams's bra line, so their collaboration is well-established. The company is based in Australia, where Amphlett and the Divinyls were from.
It's generally recommended that everyone with breasts becomes familiar with their normal shape and feel, but you don't need to stress over a self-exam routine.
Current guidelines from the U.S. Preventive Services Taskforce (USPSTF) recommend that all patients should be "aware of changes in their bodies" and that they should discuss any changes with their doctor. But they don't specifically recommend any particular type of breast self-exam and they specifically recommend against clinicians teaching patients a particular type of exam.
The USPSTF also says that there's no evidence breast self-exams reduce the mortality rate associated with breast cancer. But they do come with a risk for false-positives and unnecessary testing associated with self-exams, which can be costly and anxiety-inducing.
So, as SELF explained previously, it's really up to you, your individual circumstances, and your doctor. If, for you, being familiar with your breasts means doing a standard exam at regular intervals, that's fine. But if having to get your monthly exam in, having to do it in exactly the right way, and being anxious about finding even the slightest change causes more stress than reassurance, then it's fine to skip the routine and just get to know your body in a less structured way.
As long as you know what's normal for you, you can spot when something is different, and you know to check in with your doctor as soon as something odd pops up, that's what matters most. And Williams's video is a lovely reminder of those crucial habits. Now touch yourself, friends.