Breast cancer has touched my life. I’m sure it’s touched yours, too, in some way.
My aunt had a very tough battle with breast cancer several years ago. She bravely faced a double mastectomy and ended up with permanent alopecia from the cancer treatments. And she remains a beautiful woman, made more beautiful by her courage.
In my life as a public relations practitioner, I’ve launched a pink facial tissue box from Scottie’s and one of Canada’s first coloured coins – the Breast Cancer Coin from the Royal Canadian Mint – both of which benefitted the good work that the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation (CBCF) does.
I am linked to breast cancer in my personal and professional life. I hope that’s as close as I ever come.
And as I near the big 4-0 next year, I’m hyper-aware that I’m about to become officially old enough to get annual mammograms. But after learning about the #OneNewThing initiative from CBCF, I’m going to do a better job of taking care of all of the risk factors that are up to me.
So I decided to create a breast health plan (it’s free!), and although it was hard to answer some of the questions with brutal honestly, I did. I admitted that my lifestyle has become almost completely sedentary thanks to blogging and that I drink alcohol more than just once a month (isn’t a daily glass of red wine supposed to be healthy, after all?). The good news is that I understand what healthy eating looks like (even if I haven’t been following the fundamental principles of late) and am very educated on the kinds of ingredients that should be avoided when it comes to skin-, body-care and household products.
Basically, it means that I’m only a 50 per cent mess. (Right?)
Among other things, my #OneNewThing breast health plan recommends that I take a walk every day, eat smaller portions of calorie-rich foods (hello, butter) and “be aware of how much (I) drink.” Trust me, I’m aware; this aging body doesn’t do well with hangovers anymore so I don’t binge drink very often these days. It congratulated me for not smoking and suggested I continue to steer clear of second-hand smoke, which I would really love to do if all you smokers would please stop smoking right outside of buildings and shops where I seem to encounter it the most.
The plan also reminded me to avoid “personal care products with formaldehyde, phthalates, parabens, alkylphenols, fragrance or parfum, and placental extracts” and included a link to EWG’s Pesticides in Produce guide, which is a downloadable PDF. Seems a tad more fulsome than merely a bulleted list of The Dirty Dozen.
Of all of the preventable risk factors associated with breast cancer, my activity level is what has to change. And that’s going to be my #OneNewThing pledge. I’m going to get active, every day. Even if it’s just significantly raising my heart rate for 10 minutes a day to start.
Because I don’t have the strength to face what my aunt did. I have a family who needs me. And if one-third of breast cancers can be prevented by living well, that’s a stat to which I need to pay close attention.
DISCLAIMERS: The Royal Canadian Mint is still one of my firm’s clients, but I haven’t worked on the team that represents it for many years. Although I was compensated for this post, I accepted the partnership because I want to help women take charge of their health. All of the thoughts expressed here are mine, all mine. Now stop worrying about me and go check your boobs.