This thought-provoking photo is going viral to help women detect breast cancer

Publish Date
Monday, 16 January 2017, 2:34PM

A couple of years ago it was our bra colour. This past week, it's been a red heart.

Over the years, women have used social media to raise awareness about breast cancer. But are red hearts really going to help women spot the signs of breast cancer?

Erin Smith Chieze from San Diego was so frustrated by the Facebook campaign, she shared an image from the charity Worldwide Breast Cancer instead.

The viral image features lemons, vividly depicting what breast cancer can look and feel like.

Erin's post featuring the image created by designer Corrine Ellsworth Beaumont has been viewed by three million people alone and shared more than 30,000 times.

Erin was prompted to share the image because in 2015, a similar photo alerted her that something was wrong.  

'Someone once posted a picture on Facebook of what breast cancer can look like,' she recalled. 'Not feel, but look like.

'In December of 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 tumor, but my tumor was non palpable.'

Erin was diagnosed with breast cancer five days later, and she found out she had stage 4 cancer the following month. 

A heart did nothing for awareness. 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,' she said.

'We need to give REAL information, not cute hearts. Without having seen a picture randomly with real information, I wouldn't have known what to look for. 

'Do us a favour, stop playing games with my life and start truly helping people. Metastatic breast cancer treatment research and real awareness.'

'So if you truly want to help people WITH cancer, or those who will GET cancer, share photos like this one. I wish I remembered who posted the original picture I saw, it truly did make a difference for me.'


  • Thick mass: A sudden thickening of the breast tissue can be a sign of a serious underlying condition such as lobular or inflammatory breast cancer
  • Indentation: Some people notice a dip, or dent, in the breast. This can be because the cancer is tethered to the breast tissue and so pulls it inwards
  • Skin erosion: In rare cases cancer that is growing under the skin can break through and create a wound 
  • Heat or redness: If the breast feels warm to touch or there's redness one-third of the breast, it can be a sign of inflammatory breast cancer
  • New fluid: Spontaneous nipple discharge on one side, which may be blood stained, brown or clear, might mean there is something in the breast that is causing irritation
  • Dimpling: Dimpled skin is a common sign of inflammatory breast cancer 
  • Bump: A localised swelling, bulge or bump on the breast should always be investigated
  • Growing vein: Changes such as dilated veins can be a sign that cancer is blocking a blood vessel
  • Retracted nipple: Developing an inverted nipple - i.e. not being born with one - which can't be drawn out, may suggest a lump behind the nipple is pulling it in.
  • New shape or size: Any change in shape or size not associated with the menstural cycle should be investigated 
  • Orange peel skin: Skin that has ridges or appears pitted, like the skin of an orange, can be caused by a build up of fluid in the breast 
  • Invisible lump:  Even there are many other symptoms, it's crucial to always check your breasts for lumps. A cancerous lump often feels hard and immovable like a lemon seed