Risk Reduction

I promised a friend of mine that I wouldn’t go all weird after getting cancer (and start having coffee enemas and the like. I am sorry for even typing coffee enema). But.

But I do feel like this is a wake up call. I’m only half way through my life and as a lover of science I should at least follow the most basic of health advice to improve my odds.

Difficulty Level One.

The most basic of health behaviour recommendations (from the BCNA) is:

  • 30 minutes exercise daily
  • Consume less than 2 alcoholic drinks daily.
  • Have a healthy BMI (less than 25)
  • Don’t smoke.

See? That’s too easy! I feel like that is just basic common sense.

Difficulty Level Two.

Some of the 31 steps in the Think Pink Live Green list are a bit more challenging than the BCNA list, but I think I will try and do them, or already do them:

  • Get regular exercise (#4) – 3 to 4 hours minimum, although 5 to 7 hours is best
  • Increase Vitamin D (#9)
  • Manage your emotional stress (#23)
  • Sleep well (#25)

Difficulty Level Three.

My Fighting Cancer book said this on diet and cancer:

It is important to note that although diet plays a prominent role in the prevention of cancer and in helping patients better tolerate cancer therapies, diet alone has not been shown to be effective as a cancer treatment.

I think I would be stupid not to improve my diet to reduce that risk of my cancer coming back. So for me, the next step is to tweak my diet based upon the new Healthy Eating Pyramid.

The foundation layers (around 70% of what we eat) should include:
* Vegetables and legumes – Aim to have at least 5 serves each day.
* Fruits – Aim to have at least 2 serves each day.
* Grains –  choose mostly whole grains (such as brown rice, oats and quinoa), and wholemeal/wholegrain.

The middle layer includes:
* Milk, yoghurt, cheese and alternatives – Choose reduced fat options of these foods to limit excess kilojoules from saturated fat.
* Lean meat, poultry, fish, eggs, nuts, seeds, legumes.

The top layer refers to healthy fats:
* Choose unrefined polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats from plant sources, such as extra virgin olive oil, nut and seed oils.
* Limit the amount of saturated fat you consume and avoid trans fats.

* Choose water
* Limit salt – choose foods that have less than 120mg of sodium per 100g.
* Limit added sugar

The question is: Will I stop eating chocolate every day? At this stage I think life without chocolate is not worth living. It will be interesting to see if  I get to the point where that changes.

Difficulty Level Too Hard Basket.

More extreme health behaviours, like going organic and avoiding plastics, are just too hard for me to get my head around right now. For example from the Think Pink Live Green list:

  • Eat organic fruit (#11)
  • Avoid 3, 6, 7 plastics (#13)
  • Use safe cookware, storage items (#19)
  • Drink filtered tap water (#20)

I won’t change my life without researching it a bit (Who did the research? What is their agenda? Is this real science or fiction? Are there real proven links? Is there really proof that these are cancer-causing carcinogens?), and I’m not in the mood to research Cancer stuff much at the moment. Freaks me out. I do as much as I can and then return back to Denial City.

I suspect I will be doing well to even improve my diet according to the Healthy Pyramid. At the moment I am just not scared enough to make more drastic changes, and yet too scared to do anymore cancer research (because I don’t want to think about it).

My breast nurse’s advice?

Take it step by step. You don’t need to rush. Ask for help. Be kind to yourself.

That’s what I fall back on, when all else fails.