A breast cancer awareness campaign went viral after a 38-year-old patient shared the image of 12 lemons, each showing a different sign of breast cancer, on social media. Erin Smith Chieze originally found a similar image two years ago, and credited it with saving her life after she used it for reference and was subsequently diagnosed with stage 4 breast cancer. Her January 10 Facebook post was shared over 33,000 times.
“I knew all about self exams, but a picture of what to look for keyed me into knowing I had a terminal disease,” Chieze wrote in the post.
The post shows an image from the Worldwide Breast Cancer Organization’s Know Your Lemons campaign, of 12 lemons each bearing a different defect that corresponds with a lesser-known symptom of breast cancer.
Chieze posted the image partly in response to a social media “game” where users posted hearts to secretly indicate breast cancer awareness support.
“We need to give REAL information, not cute hearts,” she wrote on Facebook.
The rapid popularity of the post left Chieze with mixed emotions.
"If feels odd," the full-time nursing student and mother told Bustle. "I just wanted to write a note to my friends and family, hoping to provide a visual tool similar to what I saw, that just might help someone else. But now knowing that this may reach a much larger audience, I feel grateful that maybe just one person out there will see it, get to their doctor and have the chance of much greater outcomes."
The most common symptom of breast cancer is usually a lump, but other symptoms are indicative:
“These include blood stained nipple discharge, nipple inversion or flattening, dimpling or tethering – including an orange-peel appearance – of the skin over the breast, lumps in the armpit or neck, or any redness which may suggest inflammation or persistent pain,” Kislaya Thakur, an expert at BMI The Blackheath Hospital in London, told The Sun.
About 1 in 8 U.S. women will develop invasive breast cancer over the course of her lifetime, according to BreastCancer.org.