October – BREAST CANCER AWARENESS MONTH by Onica Sinclair

It is said that more people than not have some sort of connection to cancer in one way or another.  I’m no different.  I have had 3 very important people in my life diagnosed with cancer: my younger cousin (leukemia), paternal grandfather (stomach), and maternal grandmother (breast).  Unfortunately, the cancer overtook my grandfather in his frail state, but my younger cousin and abuela (grandmother) came out stronger on the other end.  My cousin is now a college graduate with a success career in agricultural education and my grandmother, while she is now struggling with dementia, has been blessed with being cancer free for years now after her mastectomy.

Because it runs in my family, cancer is something that I am aware of, but because of the significance of my mom’s mother having breast cancer, I’m especially vigilant.  My mom will soon get tested to see if she her probability of developing cancer.  That will hopefully guide her, myself, and my 2 younger sisters in the right direction.  October may be breast cancer awareness month, but breast cancer is something I am vigilant every month.  Because of risk, any issue I’ve had has always been examined.  I am young for a mammogram, but I have had to two done already.  Gotta say, not my favorite thing in the world to do, but better to be proactive than reactive.

I practice many habits that I encourage all women to follow.  These are highly recommended and very important because the earlier cancer is detected, the easier it is to treat and beat.  One of the ways I first found an abnormality was during my monthly self-check.  It is best for women to do this while they are menstruating.  You should be looking for any things such as lumps or skin changes.  If you find one, please make an appointment with your doctor as soon as possible.

Limiting alcohol and smoking also reduce the risk of developing breast cancer.  What it boils down to is the more alcohol you drink, the greater your risk of developing breast cancer.  It is recommended to stick to 1 drink, at most, per day as even small amounts increase risk.  As for smoking, well that just about the worst thing you can do for your overall health in general.  Studies have suggested a very strong link between breast cancer and smoking, especially in premenopausal women.

Diet, exercise, and controlling your weight are also great ways to reduce your risk.  Obesity is a link to breast cancer, as well as many others.  Having a healthy diet in combinations with daily exercise, at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity per week and strength training twice a week, can be a big player in what you’re doing to be proactive.  Plenty of fruits and vegetables, fiber, Vitamin D, and certain spices with anti-inflammatory effects.

Being proactive and practicing habits that will help reduce the risk of cancer is very important to remember.  When an active lifestyle and healthy diet can reduce the risk by 40%, dang right I’m going to be active!  And when caught early, there is a 98% survival rate, dang right I’m doing my self-checks!  Take care of your body…be inspired to be healthy!

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