It’s October and everyone from the local fire department to the NFL is getting into Breast Cancer Awareness Month. The whole country is turning pink.
But there’s more to breast cancer than pink ribbons and benefit walks. Most of us will be touched by breast cancer in our lives, if not directly then indirectly. Like any other disease, some of us are more likely to have to fight that battle in our lifetime. I can’t stress the importance of knowing your risks and predisposition.
There are a few things you can do to help prevent breast cancer. When I sat down to gather the information for this blog, I cannot tell you how overwhelmed I was with information. Statistics on ethnicity and breast cancer. Can eating peanut butter decrease your chances? Eat fish, don’t eat fish . . . the list was extensive and confusing.
1: Listen to your doctor’s advice and do your own research on trusted medical websites.
My mother is a breast cancer survivor. Her diagnosis increases my chances, yet since she waged her battle post-menopause, my increased chances actually decrease.
2: Eat non-processed foods.
If it has a mother or grows in the state you consume it in, then it’s a non-processed food. Even better if these foods are organic. This includes necessary fruits and vegetables and lean, non-processed meats.
3: Exercise on a regular basis.
I’m a bit obsessive and a “regular basis” means every day to me. Not true. Thirty minutes of exercise every day seems to be the highly recommended advice these days, but if you can’t swing that, don’t give up. Three times a week, even two times a week, is better than none at all.
4: Maintain a healthy weight
Easier said than done. Some of us are better at a consistent weight than others. I am the queen of diets and have struggled with my weight for more years than I care to remember. One day I will get “there” but for now, I’m not giving up. You don’t either.
5: Eat fats like those found in salmon, olives, almonds, and avocados
The so-called “Mediterranean diet” fats are heart healthy and will help fight your body breast cancer. Even better, these food are tasty and can be incorporated into a healthy diet.
6: Take your vitamins and other supplements
So many times I hear women say, I can’t remember to take my vitamins. Set them by your toothbrush. Get yourself a daily pill box; have your husband remind you. Whatever it takes, supplements are important in our fast-paced, fast-food world. The best way to get your nutrients is from food, but if you can’t get them there, a bottled supplement is the next best thing.
7: Lower your stress levels
Do I even need to tell you how hard this is? Most of us suffer from stress of one kind or another. Managing stress is an art form in itself. But there are ways to control stress levels. Yoga, walking, talking out problems with friends, and prayer are all fabulous ways to keep things in perspective. And don’t think you have to choose one; use them all in any combination to help keep your stress under control.
You may have already figured it out: Many of these preventions serve a multi-purpose. Walking relieves stress, counts as exercise, and helps maintain a healthy weight. So the list is a bit shorter than it even looks.
None of these are guaranteed to prevent breast cancer, so don’t forget your monthly self-exams and a yearly mammogram. Consider this your reminder to make sure that you have your mammogram scheduled for the year. Do it now, as a lot of the clinics are scheduling months in advance. It’s never too late (or too early) to get your appointment on the books.
Breast cancer awareness is a cause that is close to my heart. My mother is a survivor. My first book, Saving Gideon, is dedicated to her and her fight. In that book, Gideon’s mother is diagnosed with breast cancer and has the battle of her life throughout the other two books in the series: Katie’s Choice and Gabriel’s Bride.
So schedule your mammogram and wear your pink. And happy October to you all!