An Open Letter To A Woman Who Doesn’t Have Breast Cancer

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Dear Friend,

Tomorrow marks two years since my breast cancer diagnosis. Today I’m sharing my heart with you in hopes that you’ll take care of yourself and do all you can to prevent cancer and detect it early if it shows up in your life.

Tomorrow I’m sharing my heart with any woman who is walking through breast cancer. If you know someone who is on that journey, would you please share tomorrow’s post with them?

For today, however, I’m asking you to:

1) Do a monthly self-exam. If you’re old enough to have breasts, you’re old enough to check them! Know your body and check yourself every month.

2) If you’re 40 or older, get your annual mammogram scheduled NOW. Do not put it off. My cancer was discovered on a routine mammogram. I never felt it. My doctors never felt it.

3) If you have risk factors like family history, confer with your doctor on when to begin mammograms. My daughters’ doctors are recommending they begin mammograms at age 30 because my cancer was discovered before I turned 50.

4) If you find a lump or the appearance of your breasts change, follow up with your doctor immediately. Do not wait. Don’t tell yourself you’re too busy to go to the doctor. Don’t put your head in the sand and tell yourself it will go away. Early detection is key for curing breast cancer.

5) Maintain a Healthy Weight. Women who are overweight are at a greater risk for developing breast cancer. Not only that, but you’ll feel better and have more energy!

6) Exercise. Women who exercise have a lower risk of developing breast cancer. Aim for four to seven hours of exercise a week. A daily walk can make a big difference!

7) Eat Nutritionally. Avoid processed foods and meats. Choose hormone free meats and dairy when you can. Eat whole grains and limit refined sugar to special occasions. Read labels and put products back on the shelf that have unpronounceable ingredients in them.

8) Limit contact with environmental risks. Start using glass over plastic containers. NEVER use plastic in the microwave. Choose non-toxic cleaning products like vinegar and baking soda. Limit contact with pesticides. Buy organic options for fruits and vegetables listed on the Dirty Dozen list (these are the fruits and vegetables that absorb the highest level of pesticides).

In 2015, the International Agency for Cancer Research reported that five factors account for 1/3 of all cancers: high body mass index, low fruit and vegetable intake, lack of physical activity, tobacco use, and alcohol use. The American Institute for Cancer Research estimates that 33% of all breast cancer cases in the US could be prevented by dietary changes and exercise. (source: www.beyondboobs.org)

YOU can make a difference in you and your family’s risk factors!  I wish I’d really understood that years ago. Now I know and I’m making necessary changes. I hope you will too.

So what will you do today to reduce your risk? Pick one or two of these and get started today!

After all, today’s the first day of the rest of your life.

Love,

Jill

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4 Responses to An Open Letter To A Woman Who Doesn’t Have Breast Cancer

  1. Susan says:

    Jill, would you be willing to share what you use to cover food when heating it in the microwave? I use a plastic BPA-free cover made for the microwave, but now I’m worried about it after reading your blog today. Thanks for all you write about in your blogs – I’ve learned a lot from you over the years and I’m most grateful.

  2. Carol McLeod says:

    Hi Jill – I loved your blog today! I was diagnosed on November 3, 2014 and have been in an intense battle this year but I am doing well now. 2 mastectomies and horrible drugs later – I have changed my lifestyle as you suggested. No more sugar for this girl! Only organic fruits and veggies when at home and only free-range, grass-fed meat. I have changed all of the products that I use on my skin as well. No more soy. The hardest change of all (Vanity! Vanity! All is vanity!) was the decision, suggested by my oncologist, to stop dying my hair. So … here I stand … 40 pounds down … a very healthy, albeit gray, 60 year old woman! I intend to serve God with every breath I take!

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