October is International Breast Cancer Month. Not only do we celebrate those who have survived the disease, and remember our loved ones who lost the fight, but we bring awareness to affliction in a way of educating people to be better prepared if, in the future, it affects themselves or someone they know.
So let’s chat a little bit about breast cancer, who might be at risk at contracting it, what treatments are available to them, and how we all might be able to take steps now to improve our breast health.
*DISCLAIMER: while I have consulted a number of medical professionals and included links to online sources of information, always consult a medical professional if you have any further questions*
BREAST CANCER EXPLAINED
When cells in any part of the body, in this case, one’s breasts, begin to grow out of control, it is a sign of cancer. This is why doctors suggest that if you feel a lump in your breast, you immediately go for a breast examination or book a mammogram (low energy X-ray to examine breast tissue).
While the dangerous misconception held by many used to be that only women got breast cancer, KISS drummer – Peter Criss, Richard Roundtree, and even Beyonce’s father Matthew Knowles – have been diagnosed. People have just assumed that because women have more breast tissue, they are more susceptible, but there is no scientific evidence to support that notion.
Breast cancer can begin in any one of the three parts of the breast (the lobules, ducts, and connective tissue) through most documented cases have proven that it grows more in the ducts or lobules. Breast cancer can spread to other parts of the body so it is crucial that it be caught early in order to be treated immediately and aggressively.
CONDUCT A SELF-EXAMINATION
Women are encouraged to conduct a during, or 3 days leading up to their menstruation cycle, but men must also check their breasts at least once a month
Begin by lying down.
Place a pillow underneath your shoulder and bring your arm up behind your head.
Using your free hand, press down on your breast gently with the pads of your fingers. Work in circular motions and move around your entire breast and up into your armpit.
Then, very gently, squeeze your nipple to check for any unusual discharge.
Repeat on your other breast.
It is important to check your breasts regularly as it will be easier to notice a change or irregularity if you familiarise yourself with the ‘normal’ state of your breasts.
BREAST CANCER TREATMENT
Once your diagnosis has been confirmed you have a number of different options that your breast specialist (whether it be a GP, OB/GYN or Oncologist) will explain to you.
Depending on the size of your tumour, which is the growth of abnormal cells; how quickly the cancerous cells might grow; the likelihood of cancer returning after treatment etc, your medical practitioner will make a suggestion.
Most people get an Operation to remove the tumour. It is the easiest way to get rid of as much of the cancer as possible. Following that, they receive a few sessions of radiation. Chemotherapy is another option doctors might prescribe depending on the nature of your cancer. This treatment is distributed through an IV drip that works to kill the cancer in your entire body. Hormone Therapy blocks both estrogen and progesterone from growing the cancer cells in your body, while Targeted Therapy adjusts the nature of your cells that might be at risk of becoming cancerous.
There are a few health fundis who swear by homoeopathic remedies for treating cancer. If you are interested in exploring these, I explore them below. Again, I implore you to seek professional advice before considering this option as there are conflicting arguments about how effective the many remedies are.
EAT RIGHT FOR YOUR BREASTS
While some insist apples, berries, cruciferous vegetables like kale, broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower, as well as carrots, fatty fish, walnuts, and legumes kill cancer, others swear by turmeric, cinnamon, flax seeds, garlic and olive oil.
One thing is clear from the many lists I’ve read through, processed foods are a big no-no if you want to maintain your breast health. Fast food is full of carcinogens, and other hormone agitating chemicals that have no business being in your body. If you eat clean, you’re in good standing of maintaining better health for yourself in general that might extend to your breast health.
There have been studies that argue that CBD products shrink, but this is only for melanoma. The jury is still out on breast cancer. Some patients have noticed an alleviation of cancer symptoms like pain and nausea from chemotherapy having used cannabinoids in one form or another. Before you use these products, you should talk to your doctor about it because there are different products on the market and you’ll want to find what’s best suited for you and your lifestyle.