The Empire State Building is a beautiful pink this month. Aside from admiring the color, it reminds us that October is Breast Cancer Awareness month. I found it fitting and truly important to write this blog post about how prevalent breast cancer is today.
Just yesterday a woman in my building said she had just flown back from San Francisco to attend her sister-in-law’s funeral. The woman died of breast cancer and was only 51 years old.
There are two other woman that I know in my building who have survived breast cancer. Both women have been open about their stories and respectfully so, in order to raise awareness. My cousin was diagnosed with breast cancer a few years ago and underwent a double mastectomy and surgical reconstruction. I saw first-hand what breast cancer can do to you. From when she started getting sick to going through chemotherapy and losing her hair, eyelashes, and eyebrows. My cousin is a tough cookie. She didn’t even care to wear a wig.
I saw first-hand how all her years out tanning in the sun during her teens and early 20s began to show during her radiation sessions. They were black spots that emerged from underneath her skin. Her nails turned black too. I accompanied her many times to Memorial Sloan Kettering to get the best cancer treatment in the nation. Again, I saw first-hand what it was like to get chemo treatment. She often took the subway by herself out from Queens. My cousin is a quiet, good-hearted soul with the strength of a lion. Thankfully, she is healthy and as beautiful as ever.
Recently I attended an event at Ivanka Trump Jewelry in Soho that was co-hosted by the founder of My Hope Chest. She founded the non-profit after she needed surgical breast reconstruction from her fight with breast cancer. Except she was uninsured. And her job at the time, was as a Las Vegas showgirl. She had to continue working as a showgirl with just one breast! Read more of her amazing story here. This non-profit helps women who do not have health insurance to obtain reconstructive breast surgery.
It has also been very common for women with the BRCA-1 and/or BRCA-2 gene to proactively get a mastectomy even without diagnosis of cancer. These women with this particular gene are predisposed to getting breast cancer. It is a controversial decision but a decision most women decide to make. Angelina Jolie is one. “Life has many challenges. The ones we should not be scared of are the ones we can take on and take control of” says Angelina. By getting this surgery before you actually have breast cancer, reduces your risk by as much as 87%.
Breast cancer can be genetic but it is also believed to be environmental. Long Island, NY is home to more and more cases of breast cancer each year. Theories about “something in the water” are often heard.
Breast cancer is a serious and growing problem. I am so thankful that my cousin is now fine. She actually has nine lives because at the same time she had breast cancer, she also had colon cancer and then suffered a tiny stroke. A side note, my cousin hates fruits and vegetables and has for most of her life. Her diet absolutely contributed to some of her illness.
Tips to Minimize Environmental Exposure to Cancer:
There is a dietary theory that cancer and diabetes and other major diseases can be reversed and healed through proper eating. We all know that we should increase our fruits and vegetables. But we should eat the right kinds, those high in anti-oxidants and are nutrient-dense. Here is a list, also recommended by Dr. Oz:
Spices & Herbs
We should also minimize the carcinogens that can arise through cooking – heating oil and foods above certain degrees. Try to use BPA lead-free bottles for your drinking water and food containers. Finally, switch all your cleaning and make-up products to organic and natural. Studies have shown that toxic cleaning products could be to blame.
So in light of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Ladies, be thankful that you have your natural, healthy breasts and make sure to follow the above tips to minimize your risk of breast cancer. And Gents, be thankful that the women in your life – sister, cousins, mother, friends, girlfriend, wife – are healthy. For those of you who know of women who have survived breast cancer, take this month to be thankful and give what you can to support Breast Cancer Awareness, whether it be through your time or through financial means.
Finally, remind every woman in your life to get her yearly mammogram, even yourself, and save the boobs!