I often hear about different “awareness months” and while I think they are usually for a good cause, I’ve never paid much attention to them. However, when I heard that October was breast cancer awareness month, I knew that this year, I couldn’t just let it pass by.
Here is one of my favorite pictures of my parents. They are two of the most generous, kind people I know, and I feel so blessed to have been raised by them.
At the end of July/beginning of August, my mom received word that there had been some abnormalities in the results from her yearly mammogram. The stats showed that over 70 percent of the time, this didn’t mean anything and it was just harmless calcification. We thought she would fall into that 70 percent.
My mom will be posting later this month about her experience, but to make a long story short, she didn’t fall into that lucky group. After some biopsies, the news came back not like we were hoping — she did, indeed, have breast cancer. When she got the call from the doctor, my sister, Diana, overheard her say, “Well, I wasn’t expecting to hear that,” and we knew that it was bad news. After she got off the phone, we all gathered in the living room and just cried. No one ever wants to hear that their mom has cancer, and at that point, we did not know what the diagnosis would be. My dad gave her a priesthood blessing, and my brother and I went to work looking up everything we possibly could from the little information the nurse gave my mom over the phone. My Grandpa and Grandma Park were there, which was also a blessing, as they are my mom’s parents. It took awhile for it all to sink in. To me, other people got cancer. Not my mom. That night, when we all went outside, we saw a rainbow. And to us, we felt that was a sign that all would be well.
In nothing short of a miracle, we later found out that she probably had the best diagnosis there is for breast cancer. They had caught it very early, and they were able to remove the cancer cells very quickly as well. I feel very grateful that we were there during the time she had her surgery, because we were able to help a lot around the house while she recovered. While she is currently undergoing radiation therapy, the doctors are confident that they have been able to eliminate the cancer from her body.
Because my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer, the cause is very near and dear to my heart now. And since my grandmother, and great-grandmother, and now my mom, have had breast cancer, the doctors strongly believe there is a hereditary link which was likely passed down to my sisters and I. Although this can only be confirmed through genetic testing, I thought I would share this short quiz (seriously takes less than a minute) that can help you determine whether or not you are at a higher risk. You can take these results to your doctor, who can discuss further whether genetic testing is necessary:
After skin cancer, breast cancer is the most common form of cancer in women — current statistics show that 1 in 8 women born today will develop it at some time. That’s a lot of people. Luckily, because of advances in technology and the encouragement for women over a certain age to get mammograms, it is a very curable cancer, if caught early. Since my mom’s diagnosis, and realizing that I may be at a great risk for getting breast cancer some day, I’ve been researching tips for preventing breast cancer, as well as foods that are supposed to prevent them. Here are some of the things I found:
Tips for preventing breast cancer (summary from Mayo Clinic):
- Limit alcohol
- Don’t smoke
- Control your weight
- Be physically active
- Avoid exposure to radiation and pollution
- Limit refined carbohydrates, low-fat and low carb snacks (such as candies, cakes, soda, etc.,) red meat, and foods that contain saturated and trans fast.
Foods to Prevent Breast Cancer (summary from here):
- Brazil Nuts
- Dark-Green leafy vegetables
- Broccoli and Brussel Sprouts
- Whole Grains
From all that I’ve read, one of the greatest things you can do is maintain a low body weight, and eat healthy. Not only will that put you at a lesser chance of getting breast cancer, but will help your overall health overall.
Over the next month, I plan to post more about breast cancer awareness month, share recipes that incorporate some of the ingredients I mentioned, and, my mom will be posting, too. If you have anything you’d like to share, please, email me at katie (at) clarkscondensed (dot) com, and I’d love to have you share a guest post.
Katie is a Colorado-native, BYU graduated, and most importantly, wife to one and mother to three beautiful boys. She is passionate about sharing her experiences with others – especially about pregnancy, breastfeeding, cooking, and crafts. She is currently training to be a Certified Lactation Educator. She loves spending time with her family and helping others find joy in family life.