Fall is my favorite season. It also marks the time of year when I first found out I had breast cancer. This year 2014 marks four years in the making of my cancer-free world. Speaking of milestones, I often I hear people talk about milestone anniversaries when it comes to surviving cancer. However, the term ”cancer survivor” is a bit puzzling to me. Where does this survivorship begin? Do we start counting from the point those fateful words exit the mouth of our diagnosing doctor? Those of us, who have heard those dreaded words, know all to well that we enter into survival mode long before the treatment even begins. Or is it the moment we open our eyes in that post-surgery hospital bed knowing that the cancer has been removed from our bodies, riding us of this disease? For some women, it isn’t even that simple. They have to undergo, surgery, chemotherapy and/or radiation. Where does their tally begin?
I always feel a little funny, as fall approaches each year. Am I allowed to prematurely count this year as another victory too? Is it okay to add another notch in my proverbial belt? Can I place the check in the box as part of my long list of items for “Checklist 2014”? I am a checklist kind of girl after all. I ran my first half marathon for breast cancer…check! I raised over three thousand dollars for breast cancer awareness…check! I have survived another year cancer-free….Ummmmm check? As I sat in the hospital room awaiting my surgery, a wise nurse and breast cancer survivor told me, “You go into that operating room a cancer patient, but you come out of it a cancer survivor”. It is a statement that resonated and sticks with me even today. Still, as fall approaches, I feel like a bit of an imposter. Feeling like a survivor since my diagnosis date was November 1st. But knowing that I didn’t become cancer free until January. It seems like such a silly thing to ponder. But inevitably remains one of the more challenging questions I face, as I grow farther away from when it all began.
Ironically, my diagnosis anniversary falls around breast cancer awareness month. This only fuels the fire of my cancer anniversary dilemma. Am I doing this milestone justice through the eye of the pink ribbon? We hear a lot about the importance of the five-year mark. But I don’t know that I will feel that differently next year. Two years was a big milestone for me. Perhaps four is double that making it just as big. I think I could debate the significance of a diagnosis date versus surgery date for many moons to come. But through the consideration of such a dilemma, I am overlooking the bigger picture. A cancer survivor celebrates the cycle of life no matter where that begins. It is a natural progression that slowly moves through life 365 days a year. Does it really matter what specific day of the year? So in honor of my A-Ha moment, I have decided to celebrate both. I celebrate my awareness of knowing more and creating a plan for survival in the fall. And I celebrate the day I put that survivorship into motion in January. It is one long anniversary, but worth every day in my cycle of life.
—My good friend Lori who often discusses the importance of living a healthy life on her website eatfithealth.com has graciously agreed to put together some pertinent information regarding the importance of nutrition after cancer treatment. The below information is something we should all be aware of as we try to make healthy life choices for ourselves going forward. Please feel free to check out more of what eatfithealth.com has to offer including nutritional counseling, the latest on allergy information and diabetes education as well. Thank You Lori!!
There are many risk factors for cancer http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/causes and it is something that no one wants. On this last day of National Breast Cancer Awareness month it is a great time to discuss the Top 10 Recommendations for Cancer Prevention from the American Institute for Cancer Research – AICR. These recommendations are based on information from the most comprehensive review of cancer and nutrition, the World Cancer Research Fund’s/AICR’s landmark second expert report, Food, Nutrition, Physical Activity and the Prevention of Cancer: a Global Perspective. These recommendations should be followed after those with breast cancer or any other cancer complete their treatment.
AICR Recommendations for Cancer Prevention
- Be as lean as possible without becoming underweight.
- Be physically active for at least 30 minutes every day.
- Avoid sugary drinks. Limit consumption of energy-dense foods.
- Eat more of a variety of vegetables, fruits, whole grains and legumes such as beans.
- Limit consumption of red meats (such as beef, pork and lamb) and avoid processed meats.
- If consumed at all, limit alcoholic drinks to 2 for men and 1 for women a day.
- Limit consumption of salty foods and foods processed with salt (sodium).
- Don’t use supplements to protect against cancer.
- * It is best for mothers to breastfeed exclusively for up to 6 months and then add other liquids and foods.
- * After treatment, cancer survivors should follow the recommendations for cancer prevention.
*Special Population Recommendations
Here is a list of specific foods that may fight cancer. The key to the nutrition portion of these recommendations is that real food is best and not supplements. By eating more fruits, vegetables, whole grains and legumes and less processed foods you will get more nutrients and phytochemicals , which have many health benefits. Eat a variety of foods and eat the rainbow with an emphasis on brightly colored or strong flavored fruits and vegetables!
Another way to think about what you eat is to visualize your plate and what foods it contains as well as the portion sizes. The New American Plate is a great tool for us all to improve what we eat by looking at what we eat everyday. Good nutrition may help lower not only your cancer risk, but your risk of chronic diseases and can help you manage your body weight!
Check out some of AICR’s recipes including black bean brownies. Take a little time and think about which of the 10 AICR recommendations for cancer prevention you can improve on and take steps today to live healthier!