Tag Archives: awareness

Breast Cancer Awareness

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month! I know this post is coming a few days late, but better late than never, especially on an important topic like this. 2020 has been anything but a normal year and with that I feel like October and Breast Cancer Awareness Month didn’t get nearly the attention it typically does. But, I am here today to hopefully shed some light on the subject and show you the importance of FOOD and NUTRITION when it comes to fighting and preventing breast cancer and really, any cancer.

This month is very near and dear to my heart given my mom’s survival of Stage 3 Ovarian Cancer and her subsequent need for a double mastectomy to hopefully prevent breast cancer in her future because of her predisposition as a BRCA1 gene carrier. Praise God for miracles! 

Today I want to share about a cancer fighting diet! There are foods that have been proven to help fight against cancer, prevent it, and even cure it! The food we put into our bodies has such drastic effects on our health and wellbeing. Food can be and is a very powerful tool when it comes to our health! I fully believe that food is medicine!

A FEW BREAST CANCER STATISTICS:

  • Besides skin cancer, breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer among American women. In 2020, it’s estimated that about 30% of newly diagnosed cancers in women will be breast cancers.
  • A woman’s risk of breast cancer nearly doubles if she has a first-degree relative (mother, sister, daughter) who has been diagnosed with breast cancer. Less than 15% of women who get breast cancer have a family member diagnosed with it.
  • About 1 in 8 U.S. women (about 12%) will develop invasive breast cancer over the course of her lifetime.
  • For women in the U.S., breast cancer death rates are higher than those for any other cancer, besides lung cancer.
  • About 5-10% of breast cancers can be linked to known gene mutations inherited from one’s mother or father. Mutations in the BRCA1 and BRCA2genes are the most common. On average, women with a BRCA1 mutation have up to a 72% lifetime risk of developing breast cancer. For women with a BRCA2 mutation, the risk is 69%. Breast cancer that is positive for the BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutations tends to develop more often in younger women. An increased ovarian cancer risk is also associated with these genetic mutations. In men, BRCA2 mutations are associated with a lifetime breast cancer risk of about 6.8%; BRCA1 mutations are a less frequent cause of breast cancer in men.

Data via breastcancer.org

So, where does this leave us? It leaves us with a conviction to fight this horrible disease. Together as women, through education, empowerment, and self-care, I believe we can beat this. Today I want to focus on the power of food and how food can help us to combat this cancer and many others.

WHAT DOES FOOD HAVE TO DO WITH CANCER?

Cancer is really just abnormal cell growth. Inflammation is the underlying issue that precipitates cancerous tumor initiation, progression, and growth. Studies have found that 30-40% of all cancers can be prevented by living a healthy lifestyle and through dietary measures.

The root causes of cancer are often times complex and unknown, but possible causes include:

  • Poor diet
  • Exposure to environmental toxins
  • Genetics
  • High stress levels
  • Poor digestion and nutrient absorption- Leaky Gut Syndrome
  • Lack of physical activity

LET’S TALK ABOUT FOOD

In general, eating a plant based diet has been shown to decrease the risk of cancer. Strive to eat more whole foods instead of processed foods. Below is a list of some of the top cancer fighting foods that have been listed on many reputable sites and throughout research articles, etc.

LEAFY GREEN VEGETABLES

We all know we should be eating more greens. Eating green vegetables is ingrained in us from a young age thanks to our mama’s. Well, looks like there is a good reason after all. Leafy greens such as spinach, kale, romaine, arugula, collard greens, etc. are all rich in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Vitamin A and Vitamin C (beta-carotene) are the most common vitamins found in leafy greens and contribute to their cancer fighting effects. “And the benefits keep coming; as natural sources of glucosinolates, they also contain antibacterial and antiviral properties, inactivate carcinogens, help reprogram cancer cells to die off, and prevent tumor formation and metastasis. These powerhouse chemicals are known to break down during the chewing and digestion process into biologically active compounds that prevent cancer cells growth, which are referred to as indoles, thiocyanates and isothiocyanate.” – Dr. Axe

CRUCIFEROUS VEGETABLES

Eat up those Brussels sprouts, cabbage, kale, turnip greens, broccoli, and cauliflower! The cancer preventing effect comes through the chewing of these vegetables, surprisingly. Cruciferous vegetables are chock full of all different kinds of antioxidants like glutathione, sulforaphanes and insoles. You can roast these vegetables, add them to stir-fry, eat raw with hummus, or add them to soup.

BRIGHT ORANGE FRUITS AND VEGETABLES

The bright orange pigment in fruits and vegetables means they are radiating phytochemicals! The main phytochemical found in bright orange fruits and veggies is carotenoids. Carotenoids are derived from Vitamin A and include beta-carotene, alpha-carotene, lycopene, and lutein. Beta-carotene in particular has been found to help fight cancers of the skin, eyes, and organs, along with promoting detoxification and liver health. Eat sweet potatoes, citrus fruits, pumpkin, squash, and carrots- just to name a few.

GARLIC

Bring on the stinky breath! Again, phytochemicals to the rescue. The phytochemicals found in garlic have been found to stop the formation of carcinogens such as nitrosamines from growing in the stomach and intestines. Nitrosamines enter our system when we eat nitrates, which are a common food preservative and are oftentimes found in deli meat, bacon, sausage, etc. Garlic can help fight against stomach, esophageal, colon, and breast cancers.

NUTS AND SEEDS

Because seeds and nuts are low in saturated fat, they are a great addition to a plant based diet. “Chia seeds and flaxseeds are two of the most nutrient-dense seeds in the world. They provide fiber, omega-3 fatty acids and a range of important minerals. Hemp seeds, sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds are also beneficial and full of healthy fatty acids, as are walnuts, brazil nuts and almonds. Their health benefits are best sprouted and can be used easily in smoothies, baked goods and with yogurt. Aim for two tablespoons daily.”- Dr. Axe. Flaxseed also contains a beneficial plant compound, lignin, which helps fight against cancer. Eating nuts and seeds has been shown to decrease the incidence rates of colorectal and breast cancers.

MUSHROOMS

Any kind of mushroom in the mushroom family has been linked to help immune health and fight against cancer. Reishi, cordyceps and maitake in particular can improve immune function and cell regeneration. If you aren’t into eating these funky fungi, you can find them in pill/capsule form and in some supplements!

TRADITIONAL TEAS

Tea contains many flavonoids, which are known for their antioxidants. Kaempferol, a flavonoid, has been shown to have a protective nature against cancer. “Researcher Margaret Gates, a doctoral candidate at Harvard’s School of Public Health, suggests that consuming between 10 milligrams and 12 milligrams daily of kaempferol — the amount found in four cups of tea –offers protection against ovarian cancer.”

Source via WebMD

FRESH HERBS AND SPICES

Turmeric in particular is a super-spice! Turmeric contains curcumin which is the main ingredient in curry powder. Turmeric is often used as a flavor/spice in Indian dishes. Turmeric can be added to rice, chicken, lentils, and vegetables. Turmeric and curcumin have been proven to fight against bladder, gastrointestinal, colon, and breast cancers. Turmeric mainly helps to prevent and decrease inflammation. Try adding 1 tsp. of turmeric into your daily meals. It can be added to eggs, a stir fry, or used in a chicken seasoning blend.

BERRIES

Berries are some of the most antioxidant filled foods on this planet! Berries contain a plethora of the proanthocyanidin antioxidants, which are known to help reduce free radicals and the damage of free radicals. So many berries are included in this category too- blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, cherries, goji berries, and blackberries.

OTHER IMPORTANT SUPPLEMENTS

VITAMIN D

Vitamin D is a fat soluble vitamin that not only helps build strong bones through its ability to help absorb calcium, but it also can prevent cancer. A recent report by the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) showed a link between increased vitamin D intake and reduced breast cancer risk. It found vitamin D to lower the risk of developing breast cancer by up to 50%. Researchers believe that Vitamin D helps prevent cancer by lowering and prohibiting the growth of cancerous cells. Vitamin D can be found in supplement form but you can also meet the recommended amount through sunshine, seafoods such as cod, shrimp, and salmon, and through eggs. The RDA of Vitamin D is 1,000 IU. By soaking up 10 minutes of sunshine each day, you can get approximately 5,000 IU’s of Vitamin D (with 40% of your body exposed).

PROBIOTICS

Remember how I mentioned our gut flora as a risk factor  at the beginning of this post? So many of us have (to some degree) leaky gut syndrome and suffer from inflammation in our gut which leads to negative health effects. “The human gut microbiota has a significant effect on many aspects of human physiology such as metabolism, nutrient absorption, and immune function. Imbalance of the microbiota has been implicated in many disorders including inflammatory bowel disease, obesity, asthma, psychiatric illnesses, and cancers. As a kind of functional foods, probiotics have been shown to play a protective role against cancer development in animal models. Clinical application of probiotics indicated that some probiotic strains could diminish the incidence of postoperative inflammation in cancer patients. Chemotherapy or radiotherapy-related diarrhea was relieved in patients who were administered oral probiotics. By modulating intestinal microbiota and immune response, some strains of probiotics can be used as an adjuvant for cancer prevention or/and treatment.” – NCBI Pub Med

Food is medicine! What we eat and put into our bodies matters for our immediate and long-term health. Don’t underestimate the POWER of whole foods…it could be life or death. Eat well to BE WELL!

Meghan Meredith
HomeBodySoul, Founder
Certified Health & Wellness Coach, Certified Personal Trainer

Fine! Suicide. There, I said it

Note from Noelle: Tribe, once again one of our guest contributors has a subject to share that is not often talked about— mental illness and suicide— my job is to give a VOICE to things that are difficult in a POSITIVE and uplifting way— this post does just that, it is the story of a Mother’s triumph over unexpected circumstances that life dealt her. She is truly a WARRIOR of the highest degree and I hope that you will be blessed by reading her words. I was.

XO, N.

“Your father took his life. Do you understand?”

No. They absolutely DID NOT understand. How could two young children, that just turned ages seven and nine, understand what that means? Yet there I sat with a Counselor next to me, watching my girls play with toys, as if somehow that would lighten the blow. Explaining to my beautiful, innocent girls that their Dad had “taken his life.” We can finally say the word SUICIDE. Dad committed SUICIDE. My husband committed SUICIDE. He didn’t just “die”. He committed SUICIDE, and it’s OK to say it. It wasn’t my fault. My words couldn’t save him, and my words didn’t do it to him. He was determined to do it one way or another, and I still wrestle with that concept and all the “what ifs?”

Let’s back it up a bit. Meeting my husband later in life, our romance was hasty with a very informal wedding on the golf course. Being my second wedding and wearing the “divorcee” title, we wanted to keep it simple, with the company of family, close friends, and 18 holes. Married on the 18th hole at the golf course we both volunteered, a round of golf, and a Washington Capitals game to end the day, I was granted the title, “Coolest Wife Ever.” I was completely blind to the fact, however, that he had an intense fear of crowds, manic depression, anxiety so bad that it physically hurt him to hug his wife, and one day, his daughters, and an overall feeling of helplessness that eventually lead to his suicide. Those were kept private from me, but eventually came out. I mean, we had our issues, but didn’t everyone?

My wonderful marriage was the beginning of a journey cut short, I didn’t expect to take. My late husband’s mental illness was exhausting. The endless problems, addiction to cocktails prescribed to “help”, (with warnings of “may cause feelings of suicide”) the insurance hoops I jumped through, his tragic suicide, and ultimately being a widowed mom at 41 with two AMAZING four and six year old girls was not the plan. Is it ever what we plan though? It was no longer my circle, his circle, and our circle. It was just my circle, lonely and scary.

The last time I saw him was a Monday morning. I woke up and he was packing his bags. I asked what he was doing. He admitted to bad thoughts and was ready to check himself in to the hospital. He so desperately wanted help. He wanted to get better. Later that morning, call it a mother’s intuition, I looked at my girlies at the bottom of the stairs as we started to walk out the door for Preschool and Kindergarten, and I said, “Go back upstairs and give Daddy an extra big hug and kiss, and tell him how much you love him.” They happily ran upstairs, did as I asked, and off we went to school. That was the last time any of us saw him. I had a feeling, and I was right. Our instinct or “gut” is pretty powerful. It’s such a long story what happens next. One that really deserves it’s own blog, so I’ll save the details. My husband left on a Monday morning and was found in a hotel, on Tuesday. Ironically, by a friend’s husband who’d just taking a Manager’s position at the hotel. It was all something that came straight off of the Investigation Discovery Channel. I’ll never forget the detective’s face that came to my house to tell me he was found.

There are many things that I won’t forget.

The following days were a blur. I simply picked out the casket and my family took care of the rest. I lost friends, and gained new friends. I received an email from a friend stating she was so upset because my husband was burning in hell. WTH?

I had to figure out finances, bank account passwords, and a million other things. At the advice of another widow, I searched for a support group, but couldn’t quite find my niche. There were older widows that lived a full life with their spouse, young widows who lost their spouse in the Military, and other widows whose spouse died from cancer or some sort of natural death. I was a young, widowed mother of two, whose husband died at his own hands. Those were hard to come by. Moving ahead a bit, it’s no longer painful for me to talk about his suicide. In fact, it’s cathartic. I can say the word, when for years I politely told people he died. My counselor looked at me one day and said, “He didn’t just die, you know that, right? Why do you always say he died?” Uh, shame, embarrassment, not wanting others to feel awkward, wanting to dignify his life…. I don’t know. She reminded me several times, he didn’t just die. He committed suicide. I just couldn’t say it. For years I lived in overdrive taking care of my girls, and not focusing on me and the trauma I was facing. My number one goal was making sure my girls were OK. I was terrified at the thought of them having any issues from this. I wouldn’t let that happen. Looking back, I wish I would’ve taken more time for me, but as parents we often make selfless decisions for our children’s benefit.

I am NOT the same person I was back then. I work full time outside and inside the home. I am tired. I can be rough around the edges. I work until midnight to meet deadlines because I have to stop and run my kids places, or feed them dinner. I’m needed in two places at once. I humbly ask for help, which I NEVER like doing. I’ve had dating disasters, run ins with alcohol, euphoric tattoos, regretful tattoo removals, wake-up calls, and countless counseling appointments. (Which let me say, counseling is wonderful and I went through three until I found the right one. She’s from Queens with a Sailor’s mouth and she makes me laugh and cry and see things from a perspective I would NEVER myself see.)Take the time to find the right match in a Counselor. Not everyone’s your cup of tea, and that’s ok. I’m a walking book and my story is still being written. Within these last nine years, I’ve said at least a dozen times, I could write a book. One thing remains the same. I have two amazing girls, and their hearts are filled with sensitivity for others. This has made us all better people.

Suicide has taught me not to sweat the small stuff. What, a silver lining to suicide? I don’t worry myself with insignificant things anymore. If my coffee spills in my car? Clean it up. If my house is a mess? I have tomorrow. If the laundry piles up? I get my girls to do it! lol What I’m saying is, that in my deepest despair, I’m still here. I’m alive, and I’m grateful for another day to live my life. A recent hospital stay, and being apart from my girls, made me realize how much certain things really don’t matter. What matters to me is raising my now teenage girls, and doing things that make us happy, and me happy. We’re not just moms. We love to say that it’s our most rewarding job, and it IS, but there’s more to you and there’s more to me. Being a good mom, for me, means taking care of myself, and taking time to do the things that make me happy, so I CAN be an amazing mom. I just started selling Scentsy on the side as something fun to do, and make money if it goes in that direction. I’ve started working out at the gym, although Covid said enough of that! I want to inspire others. When I was in the hospital, I prayed that if I got out, I would never take another day for granted. Emphasizing every single day, I look in the mirror and say, “You’re alive. You have another day. A friend of mine going through a terrible divorce asked me, “How do you know you’re going to come out of your rock bottom?” I shared that because in a week, a month, a year from now, she would be standing. And although she slipped and may have fallen, she got back up was standing.

So, my story didn’t end with my husband’s suicide, but a brand new adventure began. I waited a couple of years until I actually told my girls that their Dad “took his life”, but I’m so glad I didn’t wait. Suicide is a very common subject in our household, and when we hear the tragedies of suicide, the three of us have a certain sensitivity in our hearts for those who’ve suffered. Waiting to tell my girls that their Dad committed suicide was not looked well upon by my counselors, and once it was explained, it made sense. My counselor shared that my girls would have trust issues if I waited. They would be dealing with so many other things, and High School angst on top of everything, if I waited. I needed to tell them as soon as I could, if they already didn’t know from rumors at school, and neighborhood gossip. My seven year old came home from school one day and asked what asphyxiation meant. After picking myself up off the floor, I decided it was time. Did they understand? No, not really. But it opened up the conversation, and that’s what we needed. Our relationship is based on open conversation, and I’m so thankful I heeded the words to NOT wait to tell them. In all fairness, as mother’s, we think it best to wait to protect them. To think that they couldn’t possibly understand the concept of suicide until they are much older. Sadly we have seen children in Middle School committing suicide. Kids know and hear more than we think.

When I see someone on social media saying something like, “My sandals just broke, worst day ever!”, I have to giggle, but that’s their reality and I’m no one to judge. In my mind I think, wow, wanna know the worst day of my life? Telling my beautiful, innocent, naive girls at the freshly new ages of four and six that their Daddy died and wouldn’t be coming home. Second worst day, was taking them to see him in the casket with their letters and pictures they had made for him. Third worst day, was telling them he committed suicide… you get the point.

It’s cathartic to let it out. Yes, my husband committed suicide and it’s OK. It wasn’t my fault. My words couldn’t save him, and my words didn’t do it to him. Whatever you’re going through as a Mom; Single Mom, Widowed Mom, Step Mom, we all have commonalities. When you go to sleep at night, be grateful the day is over, and you did it! You got through the day, by whatever means, and you did it! Now when you wake up the next day, look ahead and be grateful that it’s a brand new day. One thing I’m reminded of is my kids really don’t remember my mistakes. Kids are amazingly resilient. Rejoice in that, and their unconditional love. We make mistakes, but they forgive and forget. We need to forgive and forget ourselves, too. And surround yourself with good people. My wise bestie told me when this all happened that I would be amazed at the people I thought would be there for me that weren’t; and the people I wouldn’t expect to be there for me, that were. So true, and how my circle has changed. It’s ok to change your circle. Be around positive, encouraging people. Stay close to people that don’t judge your grief, your story, your moment. I had friends walk away from me because I asked help from other friends more than them, and they were insulted. Even writing that sounds so ridiculous, but sadly it’s true. Sometimes we’re handed a really crappy deal that we didn’t sign up for, but that’s what makes us super interesting people! More to come!

We can make it through another day!

~Terese

Shedding The Shame

Shame has been a feeling I have lived with for as long as I can remember, even as far back as elementary school. Shame has made me feel powerless, worthless, invisible. A couple weeks ago as I drank my coffee on my back porch I read a post from Scary Mommy on Facebook about anxiety/depression and complex trauma and it was like a punch to the gut. It has stuck with me and my thoughts kept returning to one particular part that describes me and my journey so completely it took my breath away.

“At the first sign of anxiety or depression, traumatized people will spiral into toxic shame. Depending on the wounding messages they received from their abusers, they will not only feel the effects of anxiety and depression, but also a deep shame for being “defective” or “not good enough.” Many survivors were emotionally and/or physically abandoned, and have a deep rooted knowledge of the fact that they were insufficiently loved. They live with a constant reminder that their brains and bodies were deprived of a basic human right. Even present-day situations where they are receiving love from a safe person can trigger the awareness and subsequent grief of knowing how unloved they were by comparison.”  https://themighty.com/2018/06/anxiety-from-complex-trauma/#_=_

Shame has been a part of the demons way to control my thoughts. Shame has been a tool of the abusers in my life to make me feel small. Shame has been a feeling that others wanted me to live with for my choices. Shame has been a way to keep the my warrior quiet. I have been shamed for my depression, for my sexuality, for my belief in looking at the good in people, for only being a teacher, for my failures, for my mistakes, for celebrating by wins, for the way my body looks, for my relationships, and for daring to be happy.

I am done living with what others think of what is the right path for me. I am done letting shame keep me from following my passions. I am done with shame telling me I am defective or not good enough. I am done with people who try to shame me into living according to what they believe is proper behavior. My warrior is gaining more power and the demons are losing because I am done with shame.

I choose instead to surround myself with people that will love me despite my mistakes and understand that my mistakes are a part of what has made me this beautiful, powerful warrior goddess. People who can see that I do the best I can each and every day, and love me even on the days I struggle to make it through that day. People that feed my soul with love and kindness, and want to see more that in the world around us.  People who understand my passion, my dreams, my hopes and push me to make them a reality. People who love me even when I react out of fear and know that I am a work in progress. I choose people who see my worth and believe I am good enough each and every day. I am done with shame!

~ Kellie

Working each day to be the warrior and leader I know is within me. You can follow me at https://wordpress.com/view/leaderofthepacks.blog