Each year, pink reminders can be seen on national landmarks and lapels alike, from the George Washington Bridge in NYC lit up with shimmering pink lights to the pink ribbons sported by survivors and advocates everywhere. It’s a very visual message that the fight is ongoing. While new findings are making researchers more hopeful, increasingly more women are being diagnosed at a younger age.
As medical professionals tackle the many facets of detection and treatment, maybe taking steps to maintain a healthy weight throughout adulthood will be a positive step we can all make. While there is no guarantee that this will keep you cancer-free, there is certainly enough statistical data to suggest it will give you an edge. In a recent report in USA Today, The National Cancer Institute researcher, Rachel Ballard-Barbash stated that obese women are 30-50% more likely to develop breast cancer than women who are at a healthy weight. Eating a healthy diet and physical activity seem so obvious, but it does take a conscious effort. And, even if you do everything right and still contract breast cancer, then what?
Well, after talking with many women of different ages, backgrounds, ethnicities and physical conditions, the one common thread is it’s a personal fight that is never over. Even after being confirmed cancer-free, there is always a nagging doubt. And, like any disease or illness, you are your own best advocate.
When you are in the fight for your life, information is your most powerful weapon.
We certainly live in the age of easy access to information and current research, and while it’s a time consuming processes to wade through everything, it does make you an active participant in deciding your options. So, whether you are looking to make lifestyle changes to help prevent breast cancer, or are battling the disease, maybe some of the latest information could be helpful.
– Maintain a healthy weight – being overweight significantly increases your risk of breast cancer, particularly if obesity occurs later in life after menopause. “Losing weight, getting fit can reduce risk of breast cancer – by Liz Szabo – YourLife.USA Today.
– Get physical – check out “Physical Activity and Cancer – Cancer.gov.” National Cancer Institute.
– Eat healthy — A great resource is Joanne Sgro-Killworth a TV Fitness Expert, Certified Personal Trainer and Sport Nutritionist specialized in Weight Loss, Post-Rehab and Post Cancer training—www.fitnessanswer.com for fitness plans an recipes.
Another important element is to maintain a healthy immune system. By keeping your immune system in good shape, even if you can’t avoid getting sick, you will be able to deal with the symptoms, treatments and recover faster than if you have a weak or compromised immune system. Natural immune boosters include:
– A good probiotic with a therapeutic dose of CFU’s
– Reishi mushrooms are another great immune booster
– Eat a diet rich in immune boosting fruits and vegetables including dark leafy green, watercress, berries and acai
– Sleep, give the body a chance to restore itself
– Try to avoid stress – easier said than done—but stress can manifest in a multitude of health issues. Whether a walk around the block, meditation, a homeopathic remedy, massage, exercise, or throwing things reduces your stress, just do it.
– Self examination – it’s so easy to check out your breasts when you are in the shower—do it once a month.
– Annual mammograms for every woman over 40 and younger if you know you are at a higher risk. Don’t take no for an answer if your physician says you need to wait—it’s your life at stake.
– A study has found that a screening method called molecular breast imaging (MBI) is three times better that mammograms at finding small cancers in women with dense breasts (that’s about 2/3rds of all women in their 40’s). Ask about it when you book your next mammogram.
– Do your research, or if you are too traumatized by the diagnosis, have a good friend help you. At the end of the day, you have to be comfortable with your decision.
– Check out all the cancer websites out there. While the big national sites are great, don’t forget about other organizations and media sites reporting on the latest developments and books by cancer survivors. Suzanne Somers book Breakthrough may be controversial but it offers some great insight.
– Seek out other women who have gone through the process, sometimes, practical information can be the best kind.
– Be a full participant in your treatment process. Whether you and your medical team elect to have surgery, chemo, radiation or alternative treatments, you decide. This is not a time to be brow beaten by anyone.
– Take a friend with you to your doctor appointments if you can, you may need someone else listening to the details and asking questions if you become overwhelmed. It’s also not a bad idea to take a tape recorder with you, just to make sure you have a clear understanding of the discussion and can refer back to it.
– Whatever treatments you decide on, be prepared. There will undoubtedly be side effects, so find out exactly what they will be. If you have a job you will need to have a frank conversation with your boss so everyone can prepare for your time away.
– A trial conducted by the American College of Surgeons Oncology Group found that in postmenopausal women, a class of estrogen-lowering drugs called aromatase inhibitor can shrink some stage II and III tumors enough to allow for a lumpectomy instead of mastectomy.
– Interesting new research on Maitake D-Fraction® (a nutritional supplement) has demonstrated it’s ability to kill cancer cells as well as be a support to the body when undergoing chemotherapy. This is now in the IND (Investigational New Drug) approval phase.
– Never underestimate the value of friends and family – let those who love you help you
– Prayer, a powerful healer of both body and spirit
– Laughter can sometimes be the best medicine