October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month

breast cancer awareness blog

by Onica Sinclair

It is said that most people have some sort of connection to cancer in one way or another. I’m no different. I have had three 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 successful career in agricultural education, and my grandmother, though she is now struggling with dementia, has been blessed with being cancer free for years 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 determine her probability of developing cancer. That will hopefully guide her, myself, and my two younger sisters in the right direction. October may be Breast Cancer Awareness Month, but breast cancer is something I am vigilant about every month.  Because of my risk, any issue I’ve had has always been examined. I am young for a mammogram, but I have had to get two done already. Gotta say, not my favorite thing in the world to do, but it’s 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 look 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 reduces 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 one drink, at most, per day, as even small amounts increase the risk. As for smoking, well that is 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 other types of cancer. Maintaining a healthy diet and daily exercise can help reduce your risk. Add plenty of fruits and vegetables, fiber, Vitamin D, and certain spices with anti-inflammatory effects to your diet. Try to do at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity per week and strength training twice a week. That’s a little more than 20 minutes per day for the entire week. Or 30 minutes each day, if you don’t exercise on weekends. That’s doable, right?!

Being proactive and practicing good 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 cancer is 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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