Do you have a family history of breast cancer? Are you worried that you might be affected by breast cancer? Are you experiencing some slight abnormalities in your breasts and your gynaecologist is suspecting breast cancer? Here we discuss some ways that can help you win the fight against breast cancer.
No matter what you read and who you meet, you can never prepare for a cancer diagnosis. But when it comes to treatment, you can build for yourself a workable plan and get ready for what’s ahead. Every small step matters and being in control of your journey may guide you towards a successful outcome.
Breast cancer, in specific, is not only a debilitating and potentially fatal disease but is also a direct attack on your feminine side. Consequently, the trauma is as much emotional as it is physical. Coping up with breast cancer is like having a new job – it takes time and commitment. While doctors are doing their job to attack your cancer cells, you are responsible for taking care of yourself.
Here are a few things which will help you before and during your treatment, but will also stand in good stead post recovery:
Trust Your Doctor
A breast cancer diagnosis is your worst nightmare coming true. In testing times like this, it is easy to lose all hope and spiral down a dark hole of hopelessness.
However, it is important to keep yourself together. You must do thorough research to reach the best doctor you can. Modern medical science has come a long way and today we have a wide variety of cancer treatments which can help us win the fight against cancer. Having said that, basis an individual’s needs, some elements of the treatment could still be experimental in nature and on a basis of trial and error. Hence it is necessary that once you have identified and settled with your doctor, do trust his guidance and judgement.
Understanding what’s really going on inside your body is the most crucial step in the fight against cancer. Understanding cancer not only helps dispel the enigma surrounding it but also empowers you to fight it head-on. Understand what your medical report means, understand what the treatment route suggested by your doctor entails and most importantly, clearly understand the challenges that lie ahead.
If you belong to a high-risk group for breast cancer, be very well aware of the preventive measures and routine checkups which can allow you to catch the disease in early stages.
Join a Support Group
Your near and dear ones may not be able to truly understand the emotional and psychological trauma you are going through unless they’ve experienced it first hand. Questions like “Why me?” and “What will happen now?” “Will I survive?” and falling prey to anxiety, depression and becoming a loner is going to throw you in an unwanted abyss, increasing misery for you and your loved ones.
Many individuals with a cancer diagnosis fall prey to depression which makes recovery even more difficult. A pair of empathetic and supportive ears can lift a lot of the weight off your shoulders. Join forums or self help groups that are for and of the affected people, dedicated to bringing people together in the fight against cancer.
Reduce Oxidative Stress
Normally, hundreds of thousands of cells die and new cells take their place in your body on a daily basis. This process does produce low-level concentrations of reactive oxygen species (ROS) or free radicals. However, cancer cells, which exhibit an accelerated metabolism, demand high ROS concentrations to maintain their high proliferation rate.
A knee jerk response to the above would be to increase antioxidant consumption by the body. However, as is the case, cancer in an extremely complex phenomenon. Benefits of antioxidant supplementation during conventional chemotherapy and radiation therapy remains a controversial subject. Guns are loaded equally in both directions of research, both siding towards the benefits of antioxidants for cancer treatment and also indicating the detrimental effects antioxidants may have on tumour growth. Reasoning behind the controversy is that although antioxidant supplementation may protect normal body cells and organs from oxidative damage but the effect could be similar on cancer cells too.
Nevertheless, there is no research ruling out the benefits which natural antioxidants have on people undergoing cancer treatment. The answer often lies in understanding your body and condition with precision. You must discuss the potential use of natural food with antioxidative properties in detail with your doctor/ dietitian. Modifying your dietary and lifestyle habits could be a treatment defining step for you to contain and even reduce the oxidative damage due to cancer cells. Given below are a few tips to help you reduce oxidative stress:
- Eat more antioxidant-rich foods: Antioxidants protect cells and tissues from oxidative damage. Know more about antioxidants here!
- Quit cigarette smoking: Cigarette smoking causes oxidative stress by generating large amounts of free radicals and reducing circulating antioxidant levels in the body.
- Exercise regularly: Regular physical activity strengthens the circulatory system of the body. This allows the efficient discharge of waste products and toxic metabolites, thus preventing cancer growth.
- Reduce stress: Stress not only reduces the overall quality of life but it also negatively affects each and every system of the body. To know more about how you can reduce stress, click here!
- Follow a regular sleep schedule: Sleep and rest are the time when body organs detoxify, repair and rejuvenate themselves. To read about foods that help you sleep better, click here!
- Reduce exposure to environmental toxins: Environmental toxins such as organophosphate insecticides (OPs), residues of which can be found on conventionally grown fruits and vegetables, induce oxidative stress in the body. Heavy metals present in the air, soil, and water induce oxidative stress in the body by altering the activities of key antioxidant enzymes.
Inflammation occurs when there is a release of pro-inflammatory chemicals in the body which increases the blood flow to an area of injury, infection or tumour growth. Sometimes inflammation causes a leak of fluid into the tissues, resulting in swelling and redness. Many cancers arise from sites of infection, chronic irritation and uncontrolled inflammation. Some forms of breast cancer also result in chronic inflammation which causes immense pain and discomfort.
Thus, in order to fight inflammation, you should include inflammation-fighting foods in your diet and avoid foods that promote inflammation. Know about 10 anti-inflammatory foods here!
Increase Drug Bioavailability
Drug [simple_tooltip content=’The proportion of anti-cancer drugs which enters the systemic circulation and is thus able to have an active effect.’]bioavailability[/simple_tooltip] plays a major role in determining how effective a drug will be against a cancerous tumour growth.
Some bioactive compounds help enhance the bioavailability of anti-cancer drugs and thus make cancer treatments more responsive. Research has shown that piperine, present in black pepper, not only arrests the release of cancer aiding growth factors but also increases the bioavailability of critical drugs.
Curcumin, the active ingredient in turmeric when eaten with black pepper increases its bioavailability by several orders of magnitude. Studies have shown that curcumin helps prevent several forms of cancer including breast cancer because of its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. It also prevents the development of cancer by interfering with its signalling pathways. Research has shown that Pepper combined with a small amount of Turmeric can shoot up the bioavailability of curcumin as well as allopathic chemotherapy drugs by as much as 200 times, making the combination more than an able ally for your fight against Cancer.
Breast cancer does not mean the end of life as you know it. With appropriate medical guidance, support from close ones, changes to your lifestyle and appropriate dietary modifications you have every chance of defeating breast cancer. Breast cancer doesn’t stand a chance against human will, grit and determination to defeat the most insurmountable of barriers. The most important thing to remember in these difficult times is never to lose hope. Read about how Dimple Bawa, a Triple Negative Breast Cancer survivor, fought bravely against breast cancer and still works hard to keep it at bay!