Self Examination Isn’t Just For Detecting Breast Cancer

Shortly after my breast cancer diagnosis in 2004 I took an interest in learning about cancer, disease, health and wellness, diet and nutrition as it relates to faith.  I no longer wanted to take anyone’s word without researching things out for myself.  In doing so everything I had believed was being challenged.  It was humbling.  I began to realize that I never examined what I believed as it related to these subjects or even cared much about it.  I was fine with the way things were, and I did not need to learn anything new, or so I had thought.

As there are varying views with regard to Breast Self Exam (BSE) there are also varying views within Christianity (see the two quotes below).  But let’s start with BSE.  Some say it’s an essential part of taking care of oneself while others say it’s optional.  Some say xray-type  mammograms are absolutely necessary for detecting  cancerous lumps while others say they are not because they have been known to diagnose a lot of false positives resulting in unnecessary biopsies, surgeries and treatment.   And, a large study showed that mammography had no impact on breast cancer mortality.   So many different and opposing views and opinions can make one weary and confused.  So who and what do we believe?

Few women really want to do a breast self-exam, or BSE, and for many the experience is frustrating — you may feel things but not know what they mean. However, the more you examine your breasts, the more you will learn about them and the easier it will become for you to tell if something unusual has occurred. believes that BSE is an essential part of taking care of yourself and lowering your risk of breast cancer.[1]

Because of the ongoing uncertainty raised by this and other studies, the American Cancer Society has chosen to advise women that BSE is an “optional” screening tool. [1] 

Within Christian circles we have the same problem.  We hear so many different variations of God’s truth that it’s not always easy to know who and what to believe.  The lines get blurred especially when we hold someone in such high esteem and idolize them.  And when our relationships are more important to protect than the truth we are no longer continuing in our faith.

Most of us have read or heard on the news that Christians have bombed abortion clinics in God’s name.  We’ve read and heard about the Ku Klux Klan, a Christian organization, who believe that anglo saxon whites are above all others.   We’ve also read and heard about prominent black Christian leaders and their followers who have prejudices against whites.  Ironically enough both discriminate and incriminate.  In one sense they are very similar yet they are in direct opposition to each other.  How can this be when each calls on the name of the Lord?  Is Jesus divided?  No, but they certainly are.

So here it comes, the need for self examination in a Christian’s life.   Do we heed the call to examine and test ourselves?  Do we ask God to search our hearts, test us and lead us or do we compare ourselves to others, live by our own truth, do our good deeds and go to church on Sunday raising our hands in worship singing so we “look” spiritual?

Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you—unless, of course, you fail the test?  ~1 Corinthians 13:5

Search me, O God, and know my heart; Test me and know my anxious thoughts; See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.  ~ Psalm 139:23-24

Just like with BSE (not that I advocate it) “you may feel things but not know what they mean.“  If that’s the case then ask God to show you what they mean.  For instance, you may feel uneasy about something you said or did, and they could be good things.  But our motives are what God sees, not the act.  The act itself is the result of what is inside of us.

No one enjoys questioning their own motives before anyone including themselves.  We hate to admit things about ourselves; it’s very uncomfortable. We can easily dismiss them and push them aside especially if it’s not obvious to others but all we’re doing is deceiving ourselves.   However once we take that first step we’ll see it’s not nearly as scary as we thought.  And the truth is, we can’t continue on in faith unless we do this.  It’s not optional.

God does not ask this of us to embarrass or shame us, though if we feel embarrassed and shameful that’s not a bad thing.  Our society has removed those words from our vocabulary, labeling them to have no merit whatsoever in anyone’s life. But the truth is they are warning signs to us.  If we suppress them we are suppressing the warnings that God is pointing us to.  We don’t ignore the warning signs of a lump, do we?  We don’t tell people to ignore that sign just because it can have a negative impact, do we?  No we face it and do something about it.  God doesn’t want sin to creep in and deceive us like it has with so many others.  That’s why He allows us to feel things that may be unpleasant.

If examining yourself is not difficult and even excruciating at times, then you’re not seeing yourself for who you really are.  If it’s courage you lack then ask God for it.  You will need to remove your rose colored glasses and get alone with Him knowing that He can see it all.  Believe me.  It’s worth it.

 For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline. ~ 2 Timothy 1:7


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