October is Breast Cancer Awareness month.
This morning I was watching a program on television that highlighted Samantha Harris, who is a breast cancer survivor. She shared her experience with the disease, and described her journey through this difficult time in her life as making lemonade when you find yourself with lemons. Her desire to inspire positivity in the face of adversity, led to she and her husband creating a website to help women, called, “GottaMakeLemonade.com”
I thought back to my own experience with breast cancer when it visited our family. I myself did not have the disease, but an aunt of mine. I remember the secrecy attached to realizing she had the disease. She felt that this was a private matter not to be shared with the rest of the family, and it was not until a relative in the nursing field encouraged her to share the information with the other women in the family so we could be on the lookout and take care of ourselves.
For many years leading up to this announcement from my aunt, I had always felt good when I went to the doctor and had to fill out medical details of close relatives and did not have to check that there was cancer in the family, especially on the maternal side of my relatives. This changed for me and created such an awareness that somewhat terrified me.
My awareness of this very close to home possibility, led me to do research, and ask questions previously not part of my thought process, even though the “what if?” of the disease lurked.
As I listened to the program, Samantha made the statement that only 5% of breast cancer diagnoses are hereditary. Only 5%! Hearing this, reminded me of the great fear I had when I first heard of my aunt’s diagnosis, and the growing fear over the following years. I breathed a little easier because when compared to the other 95% of possible causes, 5% was a small amount.
I however am not complacent about being careful and paying attention to my own body. I could fall into that 5%! I do my self-examinations, have my mammograms, and look for the stated the tell-tale signs- swelling or enlargement of the breast, redness/pinkish/purplish tone, dimpling or puckering of the skin of the breast, pulling in of the nipple, breast pain, lumps, or under arm pain.
There are several different types of breast cancer- Invasive, Metastatic, Inflammatory, Metaplastic, to name a few, and even breast cancer in men. All of these have the same life altering effects when the diagnosis is made. The person infected and loved ones all are affected. I am so very happy that there is so much information now available to educate ourselves in prevention and treatment.
Another part of Samantha’s statement was that since only 5% is hereditary, she believes that what we put on our bodies, in our bodies and around us contribute to developing the disease. She described all the good things she was doing, eating healthily, exercising, and caring for herself, still resulted in the development of the disease. We all know that even the healthy get sick and die from diseases.
I am a very strong believer and advocate for being careful of toxins and chemicals we expose ourselves to. My training is in Health and Wellness, and I am learning that when we expose ourselves to toxins and chemicals, these get stored in our bodies via food we eat, the air we breathe, the creams, ointments etc we apply to our bodies.
When toxins and chemicals get stored in our bodies they become free radicals, are trapped in our cells and metastasize(spread to different parts of the body) and grow. Our bodies which are made up to process natural substances do not know what to do with these toxins and chemicals and they stay stored in our bodies. I am no medical doctor, or scientist(my disclaimer), but my science days, and health education give me this takeaway.
So in light of what can contribute to our bodies entertaining cancerous cells and growth, what can we do? We already know people who do the right things, still develop the disease, so there are no fool proof methods. What I will emphatically say though is that we lessen our chances by being mindful of several things and being active in our own health and wellness journey. How?
Follow these 3 Simple Steps Consistently:
- Getting and staying involved in your own research (education) and community efforts to save the lives of those diagnosed with cancer and their families now and in the future.
- Reduce and stay away from harmful toxins and chemicals that get trapped in our body (system) and cause diseases. Read labels, define words, research, research. Eat organically as much as possible. Choose household cleaners very carefully because many times we clean our homes with chlorine and other such chemicals and when the toxins are released in the air in our homes we breathe them in and they negatively affect our immune systems.
- Doing the needful- regular self-examinations, getting mammograms which offer minimal exposure to radiation, and asking questions that pertain to symptoms to look out for, what healthy behaviors to participate in that may lower the risk, whether or not your family should consider getting tested for BRCA1, BRCA2, or other inherited gene mutations, and just knowing where to go for help and advice.
I strongly believe that fighting breast cancer is a community effort. We are, or know someone who is fighting the disease. Education and getting involved either as a volunteer, advisor, or advocate goes a very long way in making the lasting changes we need to save more lives. Everything we do in this fight does make a difference. If we are personally affected we must not be afraid to share our personal story.
As for me, I am aware that the main risks for breast cancer is being born female, and getting older. I continue to watch for any signs, I do my self-examinations, try to create and maintain a healthy life style, keep harmful chemicals from my home, keep up to date on the information out there, and know where to go for help. I can only do my best, and pray that if I am served lemons, I too will see it as the opportunity to make lemonade.
I always keep my Promises!