‘Know your lemons’ is best breast cancer prevention meme so far—pay attention!

You’ve probably seen the egg crate of lemons going around your Facebook feeds this weekend—don’t ignore it. It’s one of the best preventive viral posts to date.

Worldwide Breast Cancer | Facebook

After a week of ignoring the latest round of breast-cancer awareness gimmicks (this time, a chain PM asking me to post a heart on my wall), a new meme stopped my scroll—stone cold.

The caption at the top of the picture of an egg crate full of lemons—each shaped and colored slightly different—simply reads: What breast cancer can look and feel like. And then a tiny label offers an explanation of the various early warning signs of breast cancer.

Far from the other breast-cancer-awareness gimmicks, pink ribbons, and pictures of saucy t-shirts that have saturated social media through the years, this picture holds a promise beyond awareness. Because this picture is about more than simply letting people know that we know about breast cancer or that perhaps we love people who’ve battled it or that we’re financial supporters of the fight, this meme offers actual, immediate help to the friends on our feeds.

Which is what compelled Wendy McGreal, a teacher and mother of four, to share the meme on her Facebook page, even though as someone who both “beat” breast cancer and lost her best friend to it, McGreal is careful about what she shares on social media about breast cancer.

“I feel blessed to have survived,” McGreal says. “But I still struggle to understand how come I got to live and my friend didn’t.”

So, McGreal is very careful about what she puts out there. She never wants her posts to feel “in your face” about surviving.

But the lemons, McGreal said, are different because they are a terrific visual of the potential warning signs. Though McGreal discovered what turned out to be a cancerous mass during a self-examination, lumps in our breasts aren’t all we should be looking out for. There are many signs–which the lemon meme highlights—that women (and men, as McGreal reminded me) need to be aware of. Signs, McGreal says, she didn’t know existed until heard about them from her oncologist. Signs she wants us all to be aware of. Signs that include things like indentations, fluid, discoloration, dimpling, heat, among others. Ultimately, signs we probably didn’t know either.

Clearly, McGreal isn’t the only breast cancer survivor who wants to help others know the sign. The meme, which was created by Worldwide Breast Cancer for October’s Breast Cancer Awareness, has been shared over three million times. That’s a lot of people who now know better what to look for and who are encouraged to #knowyourlemons.

And really, this meme campaign highlights the best of social media: by sharing a catchy, memorable image we have the opportunity to not only show support and awareness, but an actual helping hand. You might say, when social media hands us lemons, don’t make lemonade. Pass them on. Save a life.


Caryn Rivadeneira
Caryn Rivadeneira
Caryn Rivadeneira is the author of five books and is a columnist for Her.meneutics and ThinkChristian. She lives outside Chicago with her husband, three kids, and one red-nose pit bull. Visit her at carynrivadeneira.com.

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