Like the rest of the world, yesterday I heard that Angelina Jolie got a double mastectomy; learning recently that she has the BRCA1 gene. Her own mother died of breast cancer at 56 after trying to beat it for nearly 10 years. Doctors told Jolie that she had a 87% chance of getting breast cancer and a 50% chance of getting ovarian cancer.
For her the decision was "a no-brainer".
I tried to put myself in her shoes today, which isn't too much of a stretch as my Grandmother died of breast cancer last month. Both of her breasts were removed but it didn't stop the cancer from coming back a 3rd time, going into her armpit and likely into her spine. I had a Great Grandmother who died of ovarian cancer too - so it's not as if these thoughts never crossed my mind.
What I know about cancer is that it's not discriminatory in where it likes to set up shop. As I mentioned my Grandmother no longer had breasts (or her downstairs plumbing, having a total hysterectomy years ago). Yet she still got cancer. I feel like my Grandmother (albeit a wonderful lady) would have had to change her ways years ago to avoid cancer.
She was very sedentary, didn't eat well, loved diet foods, was always overweight her entire life and could be a bit on the ornery side. She had more surgeries over the course of her lifetime than you can imagine and she wore it like a badge of honor. I love my Grandmother dearly, but her life, her pain and sadly her death were a product of a lifetime of misguided medical advice, medical interventions and pharmaceuticals. She came from a generation with firmly planted beliefs that doctors know best.
Angelina made a huge decision that will impact her for the rest of her life. I hope for her sake that it was the right one. I also hope that women will think about options before they go under the knife. I'm sure she gave it much consideration, but at a young 37 and with so much time to do non-invasive preventative measures - wasn't there time to try to stop the breast cancer time bomb going off in her B-Cup? I'd like to think so - I'd like to hope so.
Breastcancer.org has an extensive list of risk factors for developing breast cancer. Check it out when you have time. Reading it is scary as hell! A bit of personal info for you - I qualify for more than a few risk factors.
- I got my period before the age of 12
- I smoked for almost 10 years
- I drank alcohol in excess for most of my 20's
- I never have had a baby and if I do now, I'm over 30 so this increases my chances
- I never breast-fed (obviously) so that increases my chances also
- I have a family member who had cancer (my grandmother)
- I'm caucasian
- I've had times in my life where I've not had enough exercise and been overweight
- And as far as environmental factors let's face it - all women are at risk with the exposure to plastics, chemicals in cosmetics, pollutants in our water, pesticides in our food and a highly processed food supply
Lordy! That's enough to make me feel a little queazy.
So where am I going with this? Perhaps I'm sorting through my own feelings about breast cancer as I write these lines? Pondering the gravity of all that we are in danger of and exposed to is scary and heavy.
I take a moment to center myself & think of all the positive changes I've made, how it's been difficult, yet gratifying. I know it's right & I shun fear & return to my core belief: I believe in the ability of the human body to heal, repair & guide us if we are willing to listen.
If I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that it was my destiny to get breast cancer, I would not have preemptive surgery.
This is my brand of preventative healthcare.
- I would eat as cleanly as I could, organic whole food whenever possible
- I would cleanse my body of excess xenoestrogens with supplements like Indol 3 Carbonol and Burdock Root
- Eliminate alcohol completely
- Make sure that our drinking water is as pure as possible - likely a reverse osmosis system
- I would get consistent bodywork to work through energetic blockages
- Juice daily
- Avoid hormone laced meats
- Eat as best as I could for my blood type
- Take large amounts of antioxidants like Vitamin A, C, E, and increase antioxidant rich organiclally grown fruits, these are shown to protect cellular integrity and protect cells from mutating into cancerous versions of themselves
- Do a lignan supplement indefinitely to block the the effect of the most aggressive estrogen in the body - estradiol. Ingest flax seeds and flax oil daily.
- Limit exposure to plastics wherever possible.
- Use of essential oils daily to protect celular integrity. A few that come to mind are Clary Sage, Frankincense, Rose & Helichrysum. Young living oil also makes Abundance which would be recommended for healthy cell proliferation.
There is risk in trusting the body - like we unconsciously do each night when we fall asleep - we trust that we'll wake up breathing. What about the risk I'm taking? Believing in my body's ability to protect itself given the right tools?
There is risk in going under the knife - and pinning all our hope on doctors opinions. What if Angelina's doctors are wrong? I hope that she has reduced her chances of cancer. I hope this works for her.
This is just one naturally minded opinion and from the looks of the internet right now - it might not be a popular one. Websites are exploding with accolades for Angelina. "She is so brave". "She is a hero".
Is it braver to cut off your breast likely 10-20 years before becoming ill or is it braver to do the foot work, make lasting changes, commit yourself to a different lifestyle and empower yourself with the knowledge of how the body gets sick and even more important - how it gets well?
My hope is that this won't create a domino effect with hoards of women lopping off their breasts in the hopes that they won't get cancer. I pray that they will seek another way -
Thanks for listening and if I offended, I humbly offer this: Ask yourself why you're offended? Is it because you've lost a loved one to cancer? I understand your anger and frustration with this first hand. My Grandmother never deserved all that she went through. But it was a lesson for me - and life is a patchwork of lessons.
I fight for the prevention of cancer - not for the treatment of cancer & while technically a mastectomy eliminates breast cancers home base - cancer is something within, a cellular state of being that is systemic. It can't be stopped by removing body parts.
Jolie's has a hereditary gene. Hereditary cases are a very small portion of breast cancer cases - some say 2%, some say 5% - some say 20%. If our DNA can be negatively affected by harmful elements, then it can be positively effected by healthful substances. Even with women who do have the hereditary genes, there is still hope for them in radical lifestyle changes.
I appreciate your comments and welcome your thoughts on the subject.