A photo that shows the many signs and symptoms of breast cancer using lemons has being praised for raising “real awareness” of the disease.
The image - designed by Corrine Ellsworth Beaumont, founder of the charity Worldwide Breast Cancer - features 12 lemons, all of which exhibit lesser-known symptoms of cancer such as dimpled skin, leaking nipples or a change in breast shape.
While many people are vigilant for lumps on their breasts, changes to the shape and size, or even the skin, can often go unnoticed.
The image was shared on Facebook by cancer survivor Erin Smith Chieze, who said it was a similar photo that helped ring alarm bells about changes to her own breast. She was later diagnosed with stage four breast cancer.
Chieze said that compared to other viral breast cancer campaigns, where people have been sharing “cute hearts”, this one can genuinely make a difference.
“If you truly want to help people WITH cancer, or those who will GET cancer, share photos like this one,” she wrote. “It truly did make a difference for me.”
She explained: “In December 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 tumour, but my tumour was non palpable. I was diagnosed with breast cancer five days later and with stage four the following month.
“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.”
Chieze said that without having seen a photo highlighting the symptoms, she wouldn’t have known what to look for.
“Do us a favour, stop playing games with my life and start truly helping people,” she concluded.
In response to the image, which has been shared more than 30,000 times, Eluned Hughes, head of public health and information at charity Breast Cancer Now, said: “It’s so important that all women get to know how their breasts look and feel normally and report any unusual changes to their GP.
“Women often aren’t as aware that non-lump changes could be a sign of something serious, and we therefore need to do much more to raise awareness of the other key signs of the disease.
“Images like this are really helpful in highlighting some of the other possible symptoms, but it’s crucial that all women get into the habit of checking themselves regularly and get to know what normal feels like for them.”
Many Facebook users have commented on the post, thanking Chieze for helping to raise awareness.
Lisa Dreier commented: “This photo is a fantastic service to women, thank you. If I had seen and understood this I would have found mine earlier.”
John W Berezinski said: “I have to say, as a guy, this was very informative. I had no idea there were so many forms. I just knew that a ‘new’ lump was of concern.”
Many took the opportunity to defend the viral campaign where people share ‘cute hearts’, saying it isn’t necessarily to raise awareness, but to show support for others.
“I am a breast cancer survivor and I believe the picture of a heart means that we are all thinking of each other,” said Lyn Tyson.