After you have been diagnosed with breast cancer (and I assume ANY type of cancer) the thought of a recurrence is always in the back of your mind. I have been researching natural ways to help reduce my chance of a recurrence and I am going to share some of the changes that I am making to hopefully reduce my risk.
1. I have read in multiple breast cancer books and on the web that being over weight increases your risk of a recurrence. I will be totally honest here. Before my diagnosis I was getting FAT. Yes..I said fat. I know it. I was happy and content in my marriage, with my kids, and with my job. I was not taking very good care of myself. Since the breast cancer diagnosis and learning that my weight may contribute to a recurrence, I have tackled it head on and I am winning! I am proud to say that I am now down almost 35 pounds and have gone from a size 18 pants to a 10/12 according to the brand. I have not gone a radical diet. I am exercising (gym membership) and making healthier food choices. I am feeling better every day! Fat cells store estrogen, and since my particular cancer was estrogen positive, the estrogen feeds my type of cancer and promotes growth. So I need the excess fat GONE!
2. Eating a diet high in vegetables, especially green leafy veggies, can decrease the chance for recurrence. This is actually helping in my battle to lose weight. By choosing to snack on veggies instead of grabbing an Oreo cookie, I am not only increasing my vegetable intake, but it is helping with the weight loss.
3. Increasing your amount of daily exercise can also help to decrease your chance. This also helps greatly with the weight loss. (Do you notice that everything seems to tie in together) I am going to the gym every other day and doing 20-25 minutes on the elliptical and doing a 30 minute cardio circuit. Now before you say…wow..that isn’t very much….when I first started in March I was only able to do 5 (FIVE) minutes on the elliptical at a time..so I have come far!!! I am still not able to do any weight training with my arms yet due to the tissue expanders. Once I have my surgery in a few days and am released by the surgeon, I plan to add strength training to my workout.
4. Have your Vitamin D levels monitored by your doctor. My Vitamin D level was extremely low. I was actually told that I had a Vit. D deficiency. I do not spend time outdoors during the day. I tend to burn very easily, and sun exposure is the best way to get your daily Vit. D. Since my counts were so low, my doctor has started me on a Vitamin D supplement. I take it daily and my doctor is now routinely monitoring my levels to make sure they stay in a healthy area. Vitamin D plays a big role in breast health.
5. Avoid soy. Do not take soy supplements or eat/drink products with extra soy added. Soy contains a plant-like estrogen that can mimic the estrogen produced in your body and can feed an estrogen positive cancer cell.
I am working hard to become healthier overall. I am determined to get this weight off and help lower my risk of a cancer recurrence. I knew before that I was becoming very overweight and unhealthy, but a cancer diagnosis will scare you into making the proper lifestyle changes that you should have made a long time ago. I want to be here with my husband and children for a very long time to come.