Survivor Day: Putting the ‘I’ in Survivor!

As we’ve been researching breast cancer survivorship online this week, we’ve been reminded just what a wide and deep subject ‘diagnosis’ really is. In fact, survivorship can almost only be 100% ‘defined’ clinically – because to each of us, it means something uniquely different. For example, some survivors believe in Pink as a symbol of hope, joy and resilient femininity, whilst others feel that Pink stinks – that it’s a blatant slap in the feminine face of their breast cancer reality. (How do you feel about Pink? Tell us on our Facebook page!)

So because we can only touch on the very tip of the survivorship-iceberg, we’ve created an ABC of Survivorship for you – and included links to more in-depth articles for you to explore!


Advocates for Breast Cancer - diagnosis


ACTIVE ADVOCACY: As a survivor, you are in the powerful and perfect position to be a voice for the voiceless. You have so much practical knowledge and emotional experience to be very effective in raising awareness and driving breast cancer education  forward thoughout our country and all its communities. (Saying that, never allow anyone to pressure you into it unless you feel it’s in your heart!) ***Connect with us on Facebook to see how we can help you get involved!

BOOKS ARE BRILLIANT! Just one example is Stealing Second Base:  A Breast Cancer Survivor’s Experience and Breast Cancer Expert’s Story by Lillie Shockney. Get browsing amongst the abundance of books out there to equip and encourage yourself!

CARE: What exactly is a ‘survivorship care plan‘?

DEFINITION of Survivorship: We want to know what YOUR definition of ‘survivor’ means! Please join us on Facebook and tell us what you think!

E:

FAMILIES & FERTILITY FACTS – and how, as a family, you can understand and embrace survivorship.

Pregnancy after early-stage breast cancer has not been shown to impact breast cancer recurrence or survival. It is often recommended that you wait for some time after completing all cancer treatments (including endocrine therapies) before trying to get pregnant since your body has been through so much. There is no magic formula of when the best time to get pregnant is after you complete treatment. You should work with your doctor to make decisions that are best for you and your family. For more information, visitwww.fertilehope.org or www.myoncofertility.org.” ~ via John Hopkins Medicine (READ MORE HERE.)

G:

H:

J:

K:

LIFESTYLE and its changes that come with being a survivor.

MYTHS (10 of them!) surrounding survivor care.

Your NEW NORMAL: ‘… you’re about to embark on another leg of the trip. This one is all about adjusting to life as a breast cancer survivor. In many ways, it will be a lot like the life you had before, but in other ways, it will be very different. Call it your “new normal.”‘ ~ via Gina Shaw for Webmd

OPTIMISE OPTIMISTICALLY: Visit CancerDietician.com to optimise your nutrition and lifestyle – and click here for a delicious resource of their recommended recipes!

PINK: Pink Ribbons, Pinktober and Pinkwashing! As a survivor, has this colour got you tickled pink? Or are you of the conviction we should adamantly think before we pink(Read more about the history of the pink ribbon here.)

Q:

REDUCING RISK OF RECURRENCE: Click here to read about 10 ways you can reduce your risk of breast cancer recurrance.

SEXY SURVIVORS: the video discusses everything as medically as you need to know about every possible issue like menopause, vaginal dryness etc. (Of course, besides the physical side of sex as a survivor, there is the heart-side to it which is just – and if not more important.)

T:

U:

VIDEOS — about breast cancer and survivorship. Click here!

W:

X:

Y:

Z:

(PS. You may be wondering why we’ve left some letters blank? Well, because today is Survivor Day, we would like to suvivors by asking you to fill in the blank letters in the Survivorship ABC with topics most important to YOU! Tell us on Facebook – because ABC wouldn’t be complete without you!)

Does Breast Cancer Run in Families?

In yesterday’s blog we told you about the genetics of breast cancer, but: DID YOU KNOW: breast cancer can run in families, even when there is no evidence of the BCRA gene?

Genetics & a Family History of Cancer

A family history of certain types of cancer can increase your risk of breast cancer. This increased risk may be due to genetic factors (known and unknown), shared lifestyle factors or other family traits.

Only about 13 percent of women diagnosed with breast cancer have a first-degree female relative (mother, sister or daughter) who also have breast cancer.

A woman whose mother or sister has breast cancer is almost twice as likely to develop breast cancer as someone who has no family history of the disease. If more than one first-degree female relative has been diagnosed with, the risk is about three to four times higher.

Interestingly, the younger your relative was when she was diagnosed, the greater your chance of getting breast cancer. For example, if your mother was diagnosed with breast cancer before she turned 40 you have about twice the risk of a woman without a family history.

If you are wondering about your breast cancer risk, you also need to look at the medical history of your male relatives. Breast cancer in a close male relative, such as a brother, father or uncle, increases your risk of breast cancer.

Other hormone-related cancers such as prostate cancer are also relevant. If your father or brother has prostate cancer, especially if it was diagnosed at a young age, then your risk for breast cancer increases.

Find out more here }

Why do we give you this information? It is certainly not to scare you! We believe that if you know about your risks, you will be aware of the need for the regular screening which could save your life. #knowledgeispower 

–> If you would like to read an academic paper on familial risks, we can recommend this one.

 

What Is Your Risk of Developing Breast Cancer?

It is a stark fact that breast cancer is the most common of all cancers affecting women in South Africa today. We know the risks are high, so it is important and your responsibility to actively take whatever steps you can to reduce that risk.

Breast Cancer: Of Risks, Reality & Risk Reduction

Some risks cannot be changed:

  • Being a woman is the biggest risk factor: 1 in 35 SA women will be diagnosed with breast cancer as opposed to 1 in 1066 men
  • Your risk increases with age: In South Africa the statistics show that women from the age of 55 onwards have a higher risk of breast cancer. If you are a black South African women, however, statistics show that you may be at risk at an earlier age. Only with accurate incidence reporting in a population-based cancer registry will we be able to know the differences in our populations and tailor make our screening needs accordingly.
  • Family history of breast cancer: i.e. If there is a first degree relative diagnosed with breast cancer. The age at which that person was diagnosed is also important.
  • Genetics is responsible for about 5-10% of breast cancer.
  • Personal history of breast cancer: If you have been diagnosed with breast cancer you are more likely to develop a new cancer in the other breast or in a different part of the same breast – called metastic cancer. Read more about metastic breats cancer here.
  • Radiation to chest or face before you were 30 years old. The amount of risk increase depends on how old you were when you had radiation.

Some risks can be controlled:

  • Being overweight: i.e. a BMI over 25. Fat cells makes estrogen and estrogen can make hormone receptor positive breast cancer develop and grow.
  • Pregnancy history: Earlier pregnancy seems to offer a protective effect.
  • Hormone replacement therapy: If you need to take it, try to keep the length of time you are on HRT as short as possible. Always discuss risk factors with your doctor.
  • Healthy lifestyle: Ear healthily, don’t smoke or consume alcohol – and exercise regularly.