Breast Cancer Awareness is not just a Month. It was a day in February 2003 and I was crying as the breast surgeon examined me on the table. She stopped and asked if she was hurting me, and I said not at all…I have a 4 year old daughter. It was such a shock to me that I had breast cancer. Statistically it was less than 3% likely that I would even get breast cancer and yet, I did have it. I followed a course of treatment that included two surgeries, 6 weeks of radiation, 5 years of tamoxifen and since then I have been 12 years cancer free! It happened to me and it was “highly unlikely” that I would ever get breast cancer. I was very lucky because we found it early in a mammogram that looked unlike the year before, it was not an aggressive type of cancer (the breast surgeon called it a “wimpy” cancer) and I had access to good health care.
Awareness is Power. It is amazing with all the strides that have been made to identify causes and some cures of breast cancer it continues to take lives every year. It is important for women and men (yes, some men get breast cancer) to be vigilant about checking their own bodies for any indications of unusual lumps and to be sure to get regular screenings. It is also important to be pro-active about your health; manage a healthy body weight, eat foods that help to combat cancer and get regular exercise, so you are more likely to avoid getting cancer, but if you do get cancer you will be in a healthy position more able to fight the disease.
American Cancer Society researchers estimate 18% of cancer cases and 16% of cancer deaths are related to a combination of eating poorly, drinking too much alcohol, not getting enough physical activity, and being overweight. Healthy eating and engaging in physical activity can lower your cancer risk. In fact, after quitting smoking, improving your diet and exercise habits are some of the most important things you can do to stay healthy.
CANcer CAN’t but We CAN. While no single food can protect you against cancer by itself, research shows that a diet filled with a variety of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, beans and other plant foods helps lower risk for many cancers. In laboratory studies, many individual minerals, vitamins and phytochemicals demonstrate anti-cancer effects.
Put Your Breast Foot Forward. Being active can help improve your hormone levels and the way your immune system works. In addition to reducing your cancer risk, physical activity helps you reduce your risk of heart disease and diabetes, too. The American Cancer Society recommends that adults get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity activity each week (or a combination), preferably spread throughout the week. This is over and above usual daily activities like using the stairs instead of the elevator at your office or doing housework. For kids, the recommendation is at least 60 minutes of moderate- or vigorous-intensity activity each day, with vigorous-intensity activity occurring at least 3 days each week.
Being overweight or obese increases the risk of several cancers, including those of the breast (in women past menopause), colon and rectum, endometrium (the lining of the uterus), esophagus, pancreas, and kidney, among others. It also increases the risk of other chronic diseases, such as heart disease and diabetes.
October is Breast Cancer Awareness month and if you would like more information about the disease, screening, access, treatment and how you can support finding the solutions to all breast cancers, be sure to check out this link to the American Cancer Society – https://www.cancer.org.