Saturday, October 2, 2010

In the Pink!

Do you ever think of the calender year in terms of colour? I know that it is probably a strange question to ask, but I have a colour coded month system in my mind and each month has it's own. This leaves my entire year looking something like a rainbow and I am always hoping that there will be a pot of gold at the end of it!

October's colour is pink and not because I say so, but because it has been nominated to represent Breast Cancer awareness. Throughout this month, you will see a wide array of pink products on sale supporting what is one of the scariest forms of cancer to touch a womans life.

My aunt died of breast cancer over 50 years ago at the age of 33. She left behind 3 children from the ages of 9 to 1 and her death left a deep wound within my mothers family. Unfortunately, my aunt discovered a lump while pregnant with her 3rd child and the doctors advised her to wait until after the birth to have treatment. Sadly, by the time her son was born, it was too late for any treatment to be effective and so a beautiful life was lost and most terribly missed.

I too encountered a very scary moment after the birth of my 3rd child. I found a lump in my breast when Nenah was just a few months old. The terrifying thoughts that went through my mind and the knowledge that history could be repeating itself was beyond any fear that I have ever felt before. I waisted no time in contacting the doctor and after an examination, was told that I needed to have a mammogram to further investigate. However, because this mammogram had to be taken at a certain time during my cycle, I actually had to wait 10 days before I could know anything else! It was the longest most terryfying 10 days of my life! It turned out to be a very large cyst, which was drained and instantly disappeared. For me, those 10 or so days felt like being locked in a prison cell awaiting my sentence. All sorts of crazy thoughts go through your mind when you are faced with a sudden and un-expected health issue. Was it my fault? Was I a bad girl and am now being punished? Is it my lifestyle? Breast cancer touches many lives and women should be constantly checking themselves for any abnormalities. Found early, the survival rate is very high.

So how can we reduce our own risk of cancer? It should be no surprise to know that there are a few simple lifestyle changes that can help.

Don't smoke - smoking is linked to at least 30% of all cancer related deaths.

Watch your weight - If you are overweight or obese, you will have higher levels of estrogen circulating your body. Aiming for a BMI of between 18.5 and 24.9 will keep you out of the danger zone.

Be physical - Sweating it out for a minimum of 30 minutes, 5 days a week has been proven to lower your risk of cancer related disease. Exercise also encourages fat loss and improves general well being.

Eat right - there is much evidence out there to suggest that in order to lead a disease free life, we need to feed our bodies with highly nutritious and un-processed foods. It makes total sense to me that a diet rich in nutrient dense foods has more cancer fighting benefits than a diet high in animal fats and sugars. Fill up on vegetables, fruits and grains and use meat and their by products sparingly.

Reduce alcohol consumption - I was shocked when my doctor told me that alcohol consumption had been linked to breast cancer risk. A small daily glass of wine may be beneficial in some ways, but anything more than that will see our estrogen levels go up, putting us once again in a dangerous area of risk.

We all want to live a disease free life and although we are not in control of everything that happens to us, we can make a difference by making certain lifestyle choices. Us females tend to do a very good job of looking after our loved ones but when it comes to looking after ourselves...well, there is always an excuse as to why we don't!

Looking after N° 1 is essential if we want to look after the other numbers in our lives!

In health and happiness!


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