By Fredrica Syren:
October is breast cancer awareness month and is an annual international health campaign to increase awareness of the disease and to raise funds for research into its cause, prevention, diagnosis, treatment and cure. Breast cancer is the second most common kind of cancer in women.
I few months back, I had my very first mammogram. Because I have friends who have battled breast cancer, I knew how important and life-saving they can be, so I happily went to my appointment. Since I’m a plant based vegan who is good shape, has never smoked, has no family history of cancer, and has breastfeed three kids, I went to my mammogram with confidence that nothing would be wrong.
As soon as I held the letter from the hospital, though, I knew something was wrong. It simply stated they needed more tests to give a proper diagnosis. Wow! I felt so scared during the next 5 days while I waited for my next appointment. So many thoughts went through my head. At my next appointment, I had to endure 11 mammogram pictures on one breast, then they called me back and said they needed 11 more on the other breast. My heart sank because I knew it meant they found something suspicious in both breasts. I then met with a doctor who performed an ultrasound that ruled out one of the lumps, saying that it was nothing. But I had to have a biopsy on the other lump. Then off for another week of waiting. At my next appointment, I was one of the lucky ones who got to hear that she is healthy, that the lump is a cyst. I’m so grateful for the result and super happy to have mammograms available to me since early detection saves life.
My doctor told me that 1 of 9 women in Sweden and 1 of 8 women in the USA are diagnosed with breast cancer each year but, thanks to early detection though mammograms, 70-80 percent will survive. Breast cancer is the most common type of cancer in women. New research, treatments and drugs are developing, so the chances of surviving cancer are increasing. I asked my doctor why more and more women get breast cancer. She said that in western countries it’s increasing, and it’s believed that the way we live is one cause. There are more hormone-mimicking chemicals in merchandise like beauty products, household cleaners and even our food that may increase cancer diagnoses. Red meat, processed food, alcohol and cigarettes may also increase chances of breast cancer.
The first sign of breast cancer often is a breast lump or an abnormal mammogram. The most common type of breast cancer is ductal carcinoma, which begins in the cells of the ducts. In the U.S., breast cancer is the second most common cancer in women (after skin cancer). It can occur in both men and women, but it is very rare in men. When detected early, breast cancer can be treated before it spreads to nearby parts of the body. It is usually treated using a combination of surgery, chemotherapy and/or radiotherapy.
Much research has focused on the relationship of nutrition to cancer. To prevent or fight breast cancer, a diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables (with a focus on dark leafy greens), high fiber with little processed or refined grains, flour and sugar is recommended. It’s also recommended to have a regular exercise routine.
I feel that I dodged a major bullet and could not be more grateful. Still, I sympathize with those other women who have not been so lucky. It was a wake up a call, for sure. Now I will keep focusing on reducing chemicals that cause cancer, continue eating super healthfully, and reduce my weakness for chocolate. I also have made a commitment to self examinations and to attending all my future mammogram appointments.