Using My Family History of Breast Cancer to Empower Myself

women with breast cancer awareness pink ribbons
Photo by pixelshot via Canva Pro

October is breast cancer awareness month and like many of you, I have been impacted by breast cancer. My mom is a two time breast cancer survivor. I have seen how it impacts people and the wide range of feelings it brings up for people who are going through it and their families.

While I can’t speak first hand about what it is like to walk through a breast cancer diagnosis, I can speak about what it is like to be a woman with a strong family history of this nasty disease. The first emotion that often comes up for people is fear. Fear for your loved one as well as fear for yourself. Does this mean that I will inevitably get breast cancer, too? 

I have had 15 years to process the emotions that come with having a close family member diagnosed with breast cancer and here is my biggest takeaway:

I can’t choose my genetic makeup or family history BUT I can change my lifestyle habits that will help stack the odds in my favor.

I can choose to live my life in constant fear or I can learn everything I can about preventing breast cancer and do those things. I can also work closely with my doctor in coming up with the best screening plan for me. 

Being proactive rather than reactive is how I approach nearly every aspect of my life, so this is really not any different. The research is constantly changing around breast cancer so I am always reading and learning as much as I can. This feels so much better to me than living in constant fear.

Now, is it possible that I can make as many lifestyle changes as possible and still develop breast cancer? Absolutely. But I chose to live my life in a place of hope and positivity instead of constant fear.

Here are some of the things I do to help lessen my chances of developing breast cancer:

Before I start, I am not a doctor. I highly recommend you work closely with your doctor to determine what is right for you. 

  1. As I stated before, I have worked closely with my doctor to determine the best screening protocols for me, and I follow them closely.
  2. I exercise daily. I do this for approximately 1,000,000 other reasons (it helps me sleep, boosts my mood, gives me more energy, stress relief,etc) but cancer prevention is one of the top reasons why I do it. Each week, I do a variety of cardio, strength training, and yoga.
  3.  I take stress management very seriously. I am a busy, working mom and just like all of you, I have so many things on my plate that it is easy to feel overwhelmed and stressed. I can’t eliminate stress from my life but I can work on how I handle it. Some of my favorite stress management tools are yoga, journaling, walking my dogs, or my daily text thread with my high school friends who just so happen to be the funniest people I know. 
  4. I aim to eat healthy most of the time. I am not even close to perfect in this area but I do my best and I am OK with that. This is an area that is constantly evolving. Some of the basic components of my diet include: tons of veggies (we are talking eight or more servings a day), clean sources of protein, and limited processed foods. I am also mindful of my alcohol consumption.
  5. Detoxing my body in as many ways as possible is another priority of mine. To do this, I am very careful about the household and personal care products I use. I drink a ton of filtered water each day and make sure to sweat daily (through exercise or sitting in an infrared sauna).

The great thing about these strategies is that they promote overall health and wellness in addition to stacking the odds in my favor when it comes to breast cancer prevention, win-win!

I hope this inspires you to take action in your own life and begin incorporating as many healthy habits as possible. Start small and gradually add new habits into your routine.


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