Thursday, October 11, 2012

Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Ladies, it is October which means its also breast cancer awareness month. And I am publishing this post to inform everyone young and old.

**Very emotional post, please close window if you're heartless. Insensitive comments need not post.**

Circa summer 2008, someone dear to me was diagnosed with breast cancer just a couple months post-partum. She took all necessary precautions to rid her body of the evil cancerous cells and even detected it early. My reaction upon discovering the news was pure shock, the kind of shock where you're frozen in your body and don't know how to react anymore.

After the diagnosis, whenever I saw her, she was happy and full of joy, as it should be, forgetting her worries and enjoying her life. I remember we even watched "The Dark Knight" together. She had the support of her friends and family, and I would often get updates of her health. She decided to undergo chemotherapy and from then on her health deteriorated. The cancer cells were beginning to metastasize and began to infiltrate other parts of her body, the brain, the lymph nodes as well as the breast all had cancer cells. Though the news of this sounded like a death sentence, she was strong and full of hope to regain her clean bill of health. I have never seen someone with that much willpower to want to live, to enjoy their lives and spend whatever time she had left with the ones in the places that meant the most.

After some rounds of chemotherapy, she said she felt lifeless, fatigued, lethargic and of course the hair on her head became more and more sparse until there was no more. But I only ever saw her with her fabulous wig, never a bald head with nothing more than a couple hairs atop her head that confirmed all suspicions that she had cancer. She then ceased chemotherapy treatment. It wasn't about being vain, it was about her overall well being. Because there wasn't an alternative effective mainstream treatment, some of us didn't agree with her discontinuing the chemotherapy, ultimately it was her choice. She ended up researching a treatment that would hopefully cure her. It was a holistic approach that consisted of a strict diet.

I remember the day we all went to the hospital to visit her. It was the first time I saw her without a wig and of course I cried, everyone cried. How else can one feel when someone dear to you is lying helpless in a hospital bed. Words could no longer soothe her, only selfless support of her decisions for her own health.

For a couple of months her health fluctuated, better to stable to worse until she passed on just a few months shy of a year since the diagnosis and on the wedding anniversary of her and her husband's. Again, getting wind of the news was pure shock. I didn't cry until I uttered the words to myself that she had passed on. She left a loving husband and a new born child. There was nothing more that I wanted than her to be a survivor, to see her husband and her new born child grow up.

Since her passing, I've been a bit more attentive to things that may cause harm to my health. 

Personally, products containing parabens are deal breakers and I try to stay away from them as much as I can. However, sometimes they can't be evaded.

Take an active role in your health!

Purchase products that are paraben free. Parabens are added to products such as makeup and lotions to prolong their shelf life. I don't like parabens because when it enters the body, it can mimic the hormone estrogen. For young girls, it can also cause early puberty. The four parabens that are prevalent in products are: Butylparaben, Ethylparaben, Methylparaben, Propylparaben. Parabens are usually found near the end of the ingredients list. Yes, it means that there is very little concentration of it in the products, but have you thought of how many products you use daily that may contain parabens in it? Getting exposed to it daily can increase your risk.

Try to purchase nail polishes that are formaldehyde, DBP and toluene free. These three chemicals are known carcinogens. Years ago I went to a natural makeup event that let people sample nail polishes that were free of the carcinogenic trio and the best part was that there was no smell whatsoever. I was also told that the nail polishes were available for purchase at the local health stores in my area. Do your research and see if you can purchase them online. The organic nail polishes can get a bit pricey. The small bottle I sampled years ago cost about $13.

Don't dye your hair or dye it less. I know some people love their hair dye but it can cause health problems. My mom frequently shows me articles about girls that dye their hair and a chemical in the dye causes a horrible allergic reaction and is potentially fatal. Why do you think pregnant women don't want to dye their hair? If you can't stay away from dying your hair, try to stay as far away as you can from the roots. Try to purchase organic hair dye.

Eat your veggies! There are many vegetables that are anticarginogenic such as mint, basil and lemongrass. Eating too much meat can cause gout and other diseases. Furthermore, I've never heard of people eating a plant based diet contract mad cow disease. Furthermore, with so many genetically modified foods it is important to eat healthy.

Drink out of a stainless steel canteen. Not a plastic water bottle. It's eco-friendly, you're diminishing your carbon foot print while diminishing the intake of BPA in your system that is found in water bottles. Stainless steel canteens can be purchased anywhere.

For those that have been recently diagnosed with cancer, never lose hope that you will see another day. Do not let cancer win and put up a good fight.

For those that received news that a family member or friend has been diagnosed with cancer, please give them your 110% support. They need you to be their backbone during this difficult time and being supportive is extremely valuable.

Cancer is not a death sentence when detected early, please spread the word to everyone you love to get their scans. Cancer is not only limited to people of 45 years of age and older but has become more and more prevalent among younger groups of people.

Stay healthy and be vigilant of your own health.

Wear your pink ribbon, donate to legitimate organizations that are trying to find a cure for breast cancer and purchase goodies that also donate to breast cancer foundations.

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