You and Your Health
October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month - Tips For Prevention
Photo: October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month - Tips For Prevention
October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, a time when much attention is focused on the rising incidence of breast cancer and the benefits of screening and early detection of this condition.
In the U.S. there is a large amount of fear surrounding the subject of cancer, yet the disease is more predominant in the U.S. than in other Western countries. The media perpetuates this, and the anxiety associated with cancer can wreak havoc on our immune systems. So how do we approach breast cancer awareness in a positive way, and without fear? Chicago Healers Practitioner and Holistic Physician Dr. Marilyn Mitchell, MD offers three positive perspectives to help take charge of your health and protect yourself as far as cancer is concerned:
- Screen DIY first. Screening is an important aspect of breast health awareness. Begin with breast self exam (BSE), a systematic palpation of the breast performed once per month. Women often ignore their breasts, and a regular self exam can be performed with an attitude of bringing positive energy and appreciation to the breasts.
- Don’t forget your doctor. A doctor can offer you a technological breast screening, which should be scheduled every 1 to 2 years. There are several types of technological screenings for breast health:
1) Mammogram - The standard screening tool for detecting breast cancer and benign breast disease. Mammograms are able to detect masses before they are palpable.
2) Ultrasound – Helpful in imaging cysts. This device is usually an adjunct to mammogram, as it does not image solid tumors as clearly as fluid-filled ones.
3) MRI – This is sometimes used as a follow up to mammogram.
4) Thermogram - A screening exam that accesses the heat or thermal changes in the breast (reflecting blood flow). This does not involve radiation or compression of the breast. There is much interest growing around this technology, but it is not yet in widespread use, and the long term data and success at detection is not yet determined.
- Take your vitamins. Certain natural supplements and antioxidants taken on a regular basis can help the body fight off cancerous cells.
- Toss the burnt popcorn. Carcinogens are often linked to cancer, so it is important to distance oneself from carcinogens and other irritants as much as possible. That said, you can have a summer barbecue, but try not to grill out too often.
- Evaluate your risk factors. Do you have a family history of ovarian cancer? Don’t wait to find this out before it’s too late – knowing this information can help you take the necessary steps to decrease your risk of having cancer.
- Don’t forget the basics. Sleep, exercise, and a healthful diet are all building blocks for a healthy life.
- Build your support system. Strong relationships with friends and family boost the immune system and lead to a long, healthy life. These people will be there for you to rely on, both in sickness and health.
- Teamwork counts. Encourage friends and family to make healthy changes to their lifestyle as well. This will make healthy habits easier and more fun to adopt.
- Think positively. Surrounding yourself with positive thoughts and eliminating negative thoughts can be very beneficial in eliminating stress. This will significantly affect your well-being for the better.
- Nurture yourself. Self-compassion is a key ingredient to a sound mind and body. Practice self-love by treating yourself to bubble baths, a nice book…things that make you happy.
- Limit your media intake. Overdosing on TV and sensational media can be a source of negativity and stress that you don’t need. Think about cutting down on this and replacing the time you would spend watching the news with a positive activity you enjoy.
- Be grateful. Nothing beats negative energy quite like counting your blessings. By regularly thinking about what you are grateful for in life, this will make you in good spirits which is also good for your body.
By tending to our physical, emotional, and spiritual health, we can open our heart centers to ourselves and work to lead a healthy lifestyle. If you get a diagnosis of breast cancer, be sure to build a team of support around you and a holistic plan of care. Make sure you have medical, emotional, nutritional support, as well as supportive relationships. Seek out a support group or therapist if you need it. Be sure to choose positive thought patterns to support you. Become empowered to be the leader in your health care.