Know Your Lemons highlights 12 symptoms of breast cancer to educate women and their doctorsMar 08, 2023 12:01PM ● By Anna Pro
This life-saving image, created by Utah resident and Know Your Lemons founder/CEO Corrine Ellsworth-Beaumont, has educated women around the world and saved countless lives from breast cancer. (Photo courtesy of Know Your Lemons)
Women have been taught to check for lumps when screening for breast cancer, but what most people don’t know is there are 12 symptoms that could be an indicator of breast cancer.
Utah resident Corrine Ellsworth-Beaumont, MFA, Ph.D., has made it her mission to educate women and girls to help them be informed when it comes to breast health. She created the nonprofit Know Your Lemons to help save lives and educate women around the world.
“People don’t know how to have the conversation,” she said. “We don’t talk about breasts and no one’s really challenged that. As we’re implementing the program in schools, we talk about every part of the body except breasts and there’s this implicit message that there’s nothing to know.”
Ellsworth-Beaumont said everyone should graduate from high school knowing the 12 signs of breast cancer that include skin sores, orange-peel skin, a sunken nipple or a dimple in the breast.
When a close friend died from breast cancer, Ellsworth-Beaumont was working as a professor in a business school in London. After her friend’s death, she left her job and put all her efforts into the Know Your Lemons nonprofit. She was stunned at the lack of information about breast health, even in the medical community.
Her goal is to educate women in a way to help them get familiar with their own breasts. That includes understanding breast anatomy like milk ducts and lymph nodes and what a cancerous lump feels like. It’s often hard, like a lemon seed, and doesn’t move.
“We don’t talk about breast anatomy or how breasts change during menstrual cycles,” Ellsworth-Beaumont said. “When we’re told to self-exam and feel for a lump, we’re given no information about anatomy, we don’t understand about breast cycles, you don’t know what that lump feels like.”
She worries misinformation about breast screening will discourage women from scheduling mammograms and doing self-exams. Social media propagates the myth that mammograms are dangerous when the screening actually saves lives. Unfortunately, Utah has one of the lowest screen rates in the country, ranked 50 out of 52 (including Washington, D.C. and Puerto Rico).
The Know Your Lemons main image details the 12 signs of breast cancer, displayed on lemons. She wants to get the poster and postcards in as many doctors’ offices, schools and women’s health centers as possible.
Because the image is universally understood across languages and cultures, Ellsworth-Beaumont has partnered with health care systems around the world to bring the information to nearly 60 countries. She often has to explain that talking about breast health is not the same as sex education, or that high school girls are not too young for the information.
“Breasts are not sexual organs. Breasts reproduce nothing but we have linked those two things so concretely that people don’t think breast health is different from sexual health,” she said.
She’s heard numerous stories from women who saw the lemon images and recognized their own breast cancer symptoms. Young women, especially, have a hard time convincing their doctors to screen for cancer, thinking they’re not old enough for breast cancer. The image empowers women to be their own advocates and not back down.
The Know Your Lemons app is a breast health and period tracker but unlike other period tracking apps, this one doesn’t collect data. The app was funded by donations and grants and was named the best women’s health app in the world from The Webby Awards. For more information, visit KnowYourLemons.org.
The foundation is also raising money to fund a $300,000 mammogram machine in the Bahamas by raffling a trip to the Bahamas. Visit the website for more information.
“It’s humbling to know I can help someone change their story,” said Ellsworth-Beaumont. “I don’t think it sinks most of the time, but once in a while I get a moment where I pause and reflect on what’s happening and that keeps me going. So many women have reached out saying the poster or the app helped them recognize the symptoms.”