It’s October; Breast Cancer Awareness Month, so I’ve decided to start off this month’s Blog in honor of my friends and family who have either fought the disease and won, lost their battle, or who are currently fighting the disease. It’s a feisty and ruthless disease that too many women are confronting.
In fact, I had my own scare when I was 22 years old. One day, I found a lump in my left breast. It was scary as hell. I have a history of breast cancer in my family, and until I saw the doctor and got some answers, I did not sleep. At all. Even my husband, (who was my boyfriend at the time) became so desensitized to “feeling me up.” I mean, he felt my left boob like twenty times, and said, “I don’t like the way that feels.” Doctors later, x rays and mammograms later, it ended up being what is called a “fibroadenoma,” which is a benign tumor. I am checked yearly by my gynecologist and breast surgeon. So far, so good.
But the actual disease itself has effected my family personally, and so when I owned my business, I donated a percentage of my yearly sales to different breast cancer efforts. My aunt was diagnosed with breast cancer at the young age of 39 years old, and subsequently lost a breast to the disease. The wonderful news; she is cancer free for fourteen years now! If you ask her why, she attributes her good health to many factors. To name a few; yoga, good eating and a healthy lifestyle. She feels so much of our health has to do with our mental well being combined with keeping our physical selves active and healthy. I have to tell you, I think she may be onto something.
To understand how ruthless this disease is, let this stat soak in: One in 9 women is expected to develop breast cancer during her lifetime and one in 28 will die of it. Frightening.
In fact, a lot of research is coming out today on amazing preventative measures we women can take to ward off the disease. Some risk factors for cancer can be avoided, but many cannot. For example, both smoking and inheriting certain genes are risk factors for some types of cancer, but only smoking can be avoided. Regular exercise and a healthy diet may be protective factors for some types of cancer. Avoiding risk factors and increasing protective factors may lower your risk but it does not mean that you will not get cancer (National Cancer Institute).
I’ve given you the statistic, and the numbers are staggering. So, what can we do, each and every one of us, to try and help PREVENT the onset of this illness?
Diet & Exercise Prevention Tips for Breast Cancer Prevention:
Among the easiest things to control are what you eat and drink and how active you are. Here are some strategies that may help you decrease your risk of breast cancer (Mayo Clinic):
- Limit alcohol. A link exists between alcohol consumption and breast cancer. How strong a link remains to be determined. The type of alcohol consumed — wine, beer or mixed drinks — seems to make no difference. To protect yourself from breast cancer, consider limiting alcohol to less than one drink a day or avoid alcohol completely.
- Maintain a healthy weight. There’s a clear link between obesity — weighing more than is appropriate for your age and height — and breast cancer. This is especially true if you gain the weight later in life, particularly after menopause. Experts speculate that estrogen production in fatty tissue may be the link between obesity and breast cancer risk.
- Stay physically active. Regular exercise can help you maintain a healthy weight and, as a consequence, may aid in breast cancer prevention. Aim for at least 30 minutes of exercise on most days of the week. If you haven’t been particularly active in the past, start your exercise program slowly and gradually work up to a greater intensity. Try to include weight-bearing exercises such as walking, jogging or aerobics. These have the added benefit of keeping your bones strong.
- Consider limiting fat in your diet. Results from the most definitive study of dietary fat and breast cancer risk to date suggest a slight decrease in risk of invasive breast cancer for women who eat a low-fat diet. But the effect is modest at best. However, by reducing the amount of fat in your diet, you may decrease your risk of other diseases, such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease and stroke. And a low-fat diet may protect against breast cancer in another way if it helps you maintain a healthy weight — another factor in breast cancer risk. For a protective benefit, limit fat intake to less than 35 percent of your daily calories and restrict foods high in saturated fat.
Now I do not claim to be a doctor. This research is coming out of Mayo Clinics and National Cancer Institutes. I simply want to inform you, my readers, how you can take care of yourselves. We have lots to live for, and we need to be around for our partners, our children, our family, our friends. There are so many things in life that we simply have no control over, and for you, breast cancer may be one of them. But why not fight? No one can take away your will to fight. I heard a saying once “Hope Belongs To Everyone.” I believe this to be true.
So during this month of October, Breast Cancer Awareness Month, I urge you to think of all the woman who have triumphantly fought the disease, who may have just found out they have the disease, or who have passed away from the disease. At the end of the day, we are all sisters, and we women have to stick together.
If you are interested in learning more, let me steer you in an incredible direction of a woman who is at the forefront of the research; Dr. Susan Love. I encourage you to visit her site http://www.armyofwomen.org/ to see some of the incredible things she is doing.
Until next time,
Do you have any stories you want to share with our readers? Breast Cancer Survivors, any of you want to share your story? Current fighters, would you share your story?