Today is World Cancer Day!
Did you know that worldwide cancer rates are growing in almost every country? The countries in the top 12 global cancer rates come from North America, Europe and Oceania. So, this means, Canada falls in those top 12.
Many of us have been affected by cancer on some level in our lives. Whether it be personally, a dear family member, a colleague, or a friend. We all have a story that has touched us. Here at Travel Nurse Canada, we have a long-standing team member who was recently affected personally in the last year, so we have asked her to share a bit of her story and some preventative measures she has learnt through this process to help you gain back your health and be there for the loved ones in your life that may need you the most during what can be, the scariest moment of their life.
Here is Brianne’s story;
First off, let me start this off with the good news, I am currently just over one year since diagnosis with Triple Negative Breast Cancer (diagnosed at 30 years old on December 21, 2018) and recently it has been confirmed that I have no evidence of disease. You heard that right, I am in NED/Clinical Remission! If you would have told me 14 months ago that I would be writing to you all on World Cancer Day, I probably would have laughed and said, not a chance. I was in the mindset that I was exactly what the doctors were telling me, “Young, healthy and fit.” But with an abrupt change in my life with the news of my diagnosis, everything changed. And by everything, I mean – EVERYTHING. I was one of the fortunate ones, where cancer had not really been part of my life in any aspect. So, this came to me as a complete shock. And not just me, everyone in my circle.
After learning of my diagnosis, I made a commitment to myself that going forward I would play a very active role in my healing process. I wanted to ensure I took the time to educate myself during each difficult decision and choose what was best for me. It was important for me to understand this new “world” that I found myself in. I have learnt a lot over the last 13 months on all levels; mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. I have also learnt that we have control of our health and outcome, following preventative measures can help decrease our risk of ever hearing the horrifying words of,
“I’m so sorry, it isn’t good news, you have cancer.”
Therefore, I am here to share with you a list of six cancer prevention tips that I believe we should all be following, as we owe it to ourselves and our loved ones to be our very best selves;
- Eat like you love yourself; that’s right, I said it, love yourself by what you are eating. Let your food be your medicine and play a vital role in healing your body as that is an aspect you have control over. Things we should be avoiding or consuming much less of are processed foods, sugars, trans fats, GMOs and alcohol. Instead, focus on buying organic/local foods with an emphasis on raw cruciferous vegetables and fruits. Eat a whole food diet that is as close to nature as possible. Don’t forget to enhance your food with immune-boosting herbs and spices, like garlic, turmeric, rosemary, and ginger.
- Move your body, exercise regularly; when we exercise for as little as 30 minutes a day and break a sweat, we are lowering our risk of cancer. It has especially been linked with breast cancer prevention, indicating that 30 minutes of moderate exercise, 5 times a week is all that one needs to reduce their risk of breast cancer or remission by 40%. So let’s get fit and have some fun while doing it!
- Make your sleep a priority; many of us juggle a lot of hats during our day but one item many of us take for granted is our sleep schedule. Sleep can play a powerful role in helping us manage or even reduce our risk to cancer. For best practice, you should create a nightly routine that allows 7-9 hours of rest to help us to balance our circadian rhythms, keep melatonin production in sync (avoid light exposure in the evenings from our screens), reduce inflammation (as sleep helps our immune system rest and recover) and overall stress levels.
- Reduce your toxic exposure; we live in a society that can make it hard to avoid certain environmental toxins. However, you have control what you put on your skin, in your mouth and use in your house. Get educated on the products you are using and most toward cleaner options. I highly suggest avoiding the use of any fragrances or chemicals you cannot pronounce. I have found essential oils to be a beautiful substitute in many aspects in my life. Plus, they smell divine. In addition, protect yourself from Glyphosate, which is found in the common weed killer, Round-Up. This is highly sprayed on our food, so again, organic is best when you can. Other industrial and environmental toxins you should try and reduce your exposure to are asbestos fibers, benzene, aromatic amines, radon, EMFs and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs).
- Get enough levels of vitamin D; Vitamin D (both naturally and supplementation) has been proven to be very important for our well being and overall health. Recent research is showing that over 40% of the North American population is deficient in vitamin D. If you have optimal vitamin D levels, you can reduce your cancer risk as well. Evidence has also been showing that vitamin D may help in reducing the risk of breast, prostate, colon and other malignancies which taken in their recommended doses (under the supervision of your medical team). This supplementation is particularly important for us that live in areas that we do not see the sun for a long period of time – most Canadians, haha!
- Express daily gratitude + self-love; one thing we all tend to take for granted is this beautiful life we get to live. We must connect back to ourselves and live fully present every day. I find starting my morning off with a self-love routine has bettered my life in ways I could have never imagined. Each morning, I wake up and take 10-15 minutes of mindfulness practice + express “I AM” affirmations to put my mind in a state of gratitude. For example, “I am healthy, I am well, I am loved, I am feeding my food the best food to heal itself, I am moving my body, I am present, I am happy, I am ALIVE.” Each of these help me reclaim control of the day ahead of me. Following this, I spend 5-10 minutes journaling, allowing myself to express gratitude for the day ahead and purge anything that may be holding me back. It is the greatest and easiest tool we can add to our bag of healing tricks. Gratitude has been scientifically linked to improve our relationships, our physical health, our psychological health, our self-esteem, and help with our sleep! We all have something to be grateful for, even the small things matter.
Now, the list could go on, but I didn’t want to take too much of your time. These six tips above will get you on the right path. I can feel it! The moment you fall in love of taking care of yourself, you will open the door to unlimited possibilities.
And of course, please ensure you are always working with your team of healthcare professionals to ensure you are on the right path for you as we are all so uniquely different and no two people are alike.
So today, we celebrate all of those who have been affected by cancer and the fears they may face. It is not an easy ride to be on but with the support and compassion towards one another, we can help those in their greatest time of need. As Paulo Coelho says, “When we strive to become better than we are, everything around us becomes better too.” So, remember that, our actions and thoughts are more powerful than you may think. They can shift the atmosphere around us and help others when they are in their darker days. Love is a powerful tool, so don’t be scared to show it.
Thank you for joining me today and I would love to hear from anyone who may have more helpful tips to add as we are all learning and growing together.