A woman has opened up about the unexpected breast check method that she hopes will save countless lives.
Hayley Browning, 27, from Chelmsford, Essex, was diagnosed with breast cancer three weeks ago.
She explained that she didn’t notice a lump while standing up or showering - instead, she discovered it while lying down.
Browning has since shared a Facebook post about her experience, urging others to perform checks while lying down too.
She said that if she hadn’t detected the lump it might have gone unnoticed for a long time - which could have impacted her chances of survival.
According to Cancer Research UK, when diagnosed at its earliest stage, around all women with breast cancer will survive their disease for five years or more, compared with three in 20 women when the disease is diagnosed at the latest stage.
Browning said she hopes the unusual breast check method will reach as many people as possibly, and has even kickstarted the hashtag #LaidBackLumps.
“Most websites tell you to check for lumps in the shower but if I had followed this advice, the lump may have grown too large to be treatable,” she wrote on Facebook.
“This is a call out to all women to check for lumps lying down, as well as standing up.”
Her lump was unusual in that it disappeared again when she stood up. Even her surgeon couldn’t find it.
“I felt the lump as I woke up one Monday morning,” she told The Huffington Post UK.
“I happened to rest my hand on my inner left breast and felt something that hurt and then felt it properly and realised it was a lump. I wasn’t actually checking for lumps at the time, as I usually do that in the shower.”
She said that when she found the lump, she burst into tears.
“I was very scared and panicked and my partner comforted me,” Browning recalled. “I then rang my Mum in tears and she booked an emergency doctor’s appointment for me for the same day.”
The 27-year-old said her Facebook post, which has been shared more than 80,000 times, “could potentially help save someone’s life”.
“I am completely overwhelmed with the amount of interest in my post and so thankful to everyone for helping me spread my message,” she said.
“Together, even if we have helped just one other person in some way, then it’s all been worth doing in my opinion.”
Browning, who is a corporate account manager for Marie Curie UK, said she is now focusing on treatment, which will involve chemotherapy.
Her post, which was shared on World Cancer Day (4 February), has received thousands of comments - with many thanking her for sharing the advice.
In response to the post, Manveet Basra, senior public health offficer at Breast Cancer Now, said people can perform breast checks while standing up, lying down, or both.
“No-one knows your body better than you and everyone will have their own way of touching and looking for changes – there’s no special technique and you don’t need any training,” said Basra.
“You may prefer to do it while standing up or lying down.
“Simply get to know how your breasts look and feel normally, check them regularly and report any unusual changes to your doctor – and remember to check the whole breast area, including the upper chest and armpits.
“Ultimately, it doesn’t matter when you check your breasts, as long as you check them regularly. It should be something that’s simple and fits with your life – whether in the shower, after the gym or getting dressed for work.
“If every woman checked her breasts regularly, we could save 1,500 lives from breast cancer each year.”