Rock superstar Melissa Etheridge got a lot of flack for something she had said in an interview with AARP magazine.
Normally, Melissa is a symbol of strength and inspiration for advocates and survivors alike. However, a comment she had made in the interview has got survivors, advocates and health care professionals off their seats. You see, Melissa said that breast cancer genes can be turned off or on depending on the kind of food you eat.
“I have the BRCA2 gene but don’t encourage women to get tested. Genes can be turned on and off. I turned my gene on with my very poor diet.”
Now a lot of people think that Melissa is sadly misinformed and that because her popularity, a lot of women may think that what she said was the truth. Experts argue that although diet may play a role in increasing cancer risk, it is not the only factor. Genetic testing has also proven itself to be especially helpful to women who are in the “high-risk” category because knowing you have the mutation will encourage them to get tested more frequently than those who are considered low risk.
FORCE, a support group for BRCA positive women as well as The National Society of Genetic Counselors have issued letters to the magazine expressing their dissatisfaction with the story. A lot of survivors also feel that the comments made by Etheridge could be pointing fingers at the survivors themselves, blaming heir bad food choices for their suffering.
Melissa has released a statement saying that she had simply been misunderstood by readers and that she didn’t mean anything negative with the comment.
What do you guys think? Do you think Melissa or the magazine should have clarified the issue further?
“We laugh to keep from crying”
This is how Fronda Alley explained why she made a hilarious song that talks about one of the most feared side effects of cancer therapy – hair loss.
Fronda’s case was a curious one from the beginning. She found a lump on her breasts the day after she got her clear mammogram results in the mail. She prayed for it to be anything else but cancer, but alas, it was. She lost her silvery locks the first few weeks after she started her chemotherapy sessions and hosted a going away party for the strands she had left. Surrounded by her family and friends, Fronda got her hands on a clipper and started shearing off her hair. That very evening, her husband and eldest son came home to sport identical shaved heads. Overwhelmed by the support, Fronda vowed to do everything she can to survive the disease.
Since hair is a symbol of health and identity, losing it can stir all kinds of emotions for cancer patients. It can be source of anxiety, frustration and great sadness for survivors and their loved ones. Fronda however, choose to see her hair loss from another perspective. She used her own experience and song writing talents to find humor in an otherwise depressing situation.
With the help of Grammy winning singer/songwriter Don Henry, Fronda released her single “I’ve Got No Hair” to celebrate the end of her chemotherapy this fall. She hopes that the song could help her fellow survivors especially those who were just starting to lose their hair to treatment.
Watch: I’ve Got No Hair
“You are not alone, you are not alone,” Alley said. “If the song says anything, I think it says that.”
Radiation Therapy is a necessary evil for many breast cancer patients. It uses high energy radiation to kill cancer cells by damaging the cell’s DNA. It can be used as an adjunctive treatment to chemotherapy and assists in minimizing the size of tumors to facilitate surgery.
The side effects of Radiation Therapy are often just as hard to deal with as the cancer itself. It is hard to contain the radiation to a specific area – which results to the destruction of both cancer and healthy cells. Common side effects include skin discoloration, anorexia, fatigue and nausea. If the cancer is located near a vital organ, it is highly likely that radiation will incur damage as well.
In an effort to reduce the side effects of radiation therapy, a new device called BioZorb has been developed. Recently, a woman from Albuquerque has been given the opportunity to try out BioZorb after she had a lump removed from her breasts. The device was implanted directly where the tumor has been removed. It serves as an easy target that for treatment and lessens the radiation absorbed by nearby structures. Biozorb also helps heal and support the skin, making reconstruction a lot easier.
“It helps to create a target the radiation doctors can target and hit no matter what,” says Dr. Linda Smith, the breast surgeon who implanted the device. “The radiation damage goes on for 10 years, it’s not anything we can undo and if we can avoid giving that high dose radiation to normal tissue, the patient is going to do better. There’ll be less pain, less scaring, cosmetic outcome should be much better than what we’ve ever had before.”
BioZorb is good for both aesthetic and physiologic reasons. We hope more patients will have access to technology soon!
According to an Oxford University Research, 15 minutes of vigorous exercise can reduce breast cancer risk by one fifth.
For three years, the study followed the lifestyle of 125,000 post-menopausal women 1,000 of whom were breast cancer survivors. It was revealed that participants who engaged in 15 to 30 minutes if vigorous exercise everyday were one fifth less likely to develop breast cancer in their lifetime compared to those who lead a sedentary lifestyle. In addition, women with 55% or more body fat percentage are also more prone to developing the disease.
Perhaps the most important piece of information we can take from this study is that no matter what your current weight is, regular physical activity can still reduce your risk. This finding serves as a ray of hope for millions of overweight women who fear that they are just waiting to be diagnosed with cancer.
“We’ve known for some time that exercise may help to reduce breast cancer risk after the menopause, but what’s really interesting about this study is that this does not appear to be solely due to the most active women being slimmer, suggesting that there may be some more direct benefits of exercise for women of all sizes.” said lead professor Tim Key.
Examples of vigorous exercises include running or any activity that causes a person to run out of breath. You can also try circuit training or repetitive exercises such as jumping rope.
Aside from helping maintain a healthy weight, exercise also protects us from disease like heart disease and cancer. It seems there really is no downside to incorporating exercise into our lives.
What’s a Cut-A-Thon you say? Well it’s basically a salon giving free haircuts to people to raise money for breast cancer patients. This year, two salons have answered the call and raised almost $6000.
The Hair Studio in East Washington Virginia gave away free haircuts to their community last October 18th, raising $3000 to benefit two local families struggling with breast cancer. It is a novel idea to support people from their own community instead of giving to a charity, because at they say, charity begins at home. Meanwhile, The Aveda Institute in Tallahassee also joined in the fun by offering $25 haircuts at their Pensacola Street salon last Sunday. These aren’t just your ordinary haircuts- the Aveda Institute is a well known beauty school in the Tallahassee area and the services were given by none other than the institute’s educators. The funds raised were given to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation.
Cut-A-Thons are a great way to show support for breast cancer and an inspiration for all small business owners who want to do their part. If you own any small business, you can do what these salons have done and dedicate a day’s worth of work and profit to give to your favorite charity. This project can enhance your staff’s team spirit and even enhance your image in the community.
So what’ do you say? Breast Cancer needs all the help it can get so even if there are only a few days left in October, you still can host your fund raising day!
When Angelina Jolie underwent her double mastectomy in 2013, she became an inspiration for many women who have had their breasts removed because of cancer. She underwent three months of treatments that included breast reconstruction and a lot of expensive treatments to make it seem like nothing happened at all.
Sadly, this is not the case for everyone who has had a mastectomy. Every day, millions of women suffer the loss of their breasts and are constantly reminded of it by having to wear uncomfortable prosthetics. This is where Knitted Knockers come in.
Knitted Knockers is a group that makes 100% cotton breast prosthesis to give to women who had undergone mastectomies. This is a free service and anyone who wants to donate is welcome to send it to their head quarters in the UK, Australia and the US. What sets these knitted knockers apart from the usual silicone prosthetic is that they are lightweight, machine washable and can be stuffed according to your preference.
Since their founding in 2013, Knitted Knockers Australia has distributed over 1,000 pairs of knitted prostheses. Recipients such as Jill Kramer is so satisfied with the knitted knockers they received that she even wrote on their Facebook Page saying, “I just wanted to tell you that I have finally got my pair and I hardly know I am wearing them, with the silicone prosthesis, I usually can’t wait to get it off. Thank you, all the hard work you are all doing is worthwhile.”
If you want to send a pair of knitted knockers, visit their website for more information. They provide patterns, tips and even how to send the knockers thru mail so they won’t get deformed!
The incidence of breast cancer is on the rise worldwide and most women feel that they are powerless against such a mighty foe. However, we are here to tell you that it is possible to reduce your breast cancer risk just by making small changes in your lifestyle. Here’s how!
Control your weight. Obesity increases the chance of breast cancer as there is a large amount of estrogen stored in fat tissue. Losing a couple of pounds by making smarter choices about your diet and adapting an exercise program can dramatically lessen your risk. You’ve always wanted to try that zumba class right? Now is the time to do it!
Cut Back on Alcohol. If you are prone to having more than 2 drinks a day to get the edge off, you may be putting yourself at danger! Studies have shown that women who drink often have 1 and ½ times the risk of more than those who load up on good old water. Cut back, your heart and liver will thank you too!
Heed on Hormone Therapy. Prolonged combination hormone therapy has been linked to an increased breast cancer risk. Ladies who require the use of hormone therapy to control menstrual problems or as birth control should talk to their doctor about non-hormonal options or getting a lower dose.
Engage in Physical Activity. Exercise doesn’t have to require a gym membership or fancy equipment; it just means you need to engage in heart pumping activity every week. Try gardening, walking around your neighborhood every afternoon or using a bike to run errands.
A number of journalists were invited to a 1-day workshop on Breast and Gynecological Cancers at the Peace and Love Hospital in Kumasi, Ghana. They thought it would be just like any other workshop where they sit in a chair and listen to a speaker talk all day. Little did they know that aside from their undivided attention, the speakers would also invoke their participation in raising awareness for breast cancer.
Professor Agyei Wiafe, a researcher based at the Loma Linda University appealed to the journalists and urged them to use their influence to reach out to the millions of women in the country that aren’t getting the information they need to protect themselves against breast cancer. He emphasized by using the media’s extensive capability, more women can be saved. He further added that the key to lesser deaths caused by breast cancer is to empower women by arming them with simple information such as how to do breast self examinations or where to get a mammogram.
Cancer patients still experience the “Cancer Stigma” especially in underdeveloped countries such as Ghana. The media can change the tide by fostering a more positive attitude towards women and breast cancer and set the record straight on the stereotypes and folklore that surround it.
The lack of enthusiasm about promoting breast cancer awareness is a problem in many countries. Professor Wiafe was right in appealing to the media to amp up their breast cancer campaigns next month!
The folks from Suddora and Custom On It are always willing to help anyone who wants to do their part in raising awareness. Both are one stop shops for customizable and appealing giveaways for your breast cancer event. Be sure to check them out!