Since October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, I’d first like to congratulate all the incredibly tough and resilient women who have fought this battle and won. Breast cancer doesn’t discriminate. Women of all ages and ethnicities fight the war and, fortunately, many of them win. Sadly, some of them don’t.
Cancer, also known as the “C” word, is scary. It’s scary to the point where sometimes you don’t even want to know—which can lead to really bad decisions, like ignoring something that’s not quite right. My Grandfather, Grandmother and Father all died from cancer. My mom battled her war with breast cancer in her 50’s (she underwent a lumpectomy followed by radiation) and then again in her 70’s, when she underwent a mastectomy. She is one of the lucky ones and for that, I’m forever grateful.
Cherylle Hayes, MD, who not only is one of the best cancer docs on the planet, also happens to be one of my best friends. Dr. Hayes is the Medical Director of radiation oncology at North Florida Regional’s Cancer Center, in Gainesville, Florida. She has a passion for treating women with breast cancer—which ironically, since choosing her specialty, has plagued her immediate family. Dr. Hayes has become an expert at Cyberknife® , a robotic radiosurgery system that is a non-invasive alternative to surgery for the treatment of both cancerous and non-cancerous tumors in the body. She is a very strong advocate of community education, giving 30-40 patient-focused talks throughout the year! When speaking to her about this article, she said we really need to get women thinking about being proactive instead of reactive when it comes to our health
“I want all women to learn a new meaning of the “C” word. It’s CEO. Women should be the Chief Executive Officers of their bodies. This means they need to pay attention to what’s going on, learn as much as they can about disease prevention and get into the habit of making healthy choices. Diet and exercise are extremely important, not only for maintaining a healthy body weight, but for fighting heart disease, cancer, diabetes and a number of other killer diseases. Unfortunately, many women are not doing these things.”
As CEO of a company, you must take responsibility. You constantly learn as much as you can about your competition so you can outsmart them and win. You need to implement that same strategy when fighting disease. The following are some great tips to how to become the CEO of your body:
- Know your family history.
- Don’t skip preventative screenings appropriate for your age. These include skin cancer checks, breast self-exams, mammograms, pap smears, colonoscopies, routine blood work and annual physical check-ups.
- Review all medications (prescription and over-the-counter) that you take and read about them. Know their side effect and possible drug interactions. If you’re taking multiple meds, talk to your pharmacist. Don’t be embarrassed. Just do it—that’s what they’re there for.
- Choose healthy, fresh foods. Cook as much as you can so you know exactly what’s going into your body. Stay away from pre-packaged foods and keep saturated fat and sugar intake to a minimum.
- Move. The more you move the better. Walk you dog, garden, take an exercise class, and clean your house. Keep your muscles strong by strength training—either at home or in a gym—twice a week.
- Find ways to relieve your stress. Stress is a killer so find solutions that work for you. Exercise is a great reliever of stress, as is meditation, journaling and deep breathing exercises.
- See the glass half-full. The way you look at life matters. Try to look for the positive in every situation even if it seems impossible at first.
By making healthy lifestyle decisions, you can significantly decrease your risk of getting breast cancer. While healthy living doesn’t promise a money-back guarantee that you won’t get the “C” word, it’s certainly worth the effort.
Now, at 72, with a passport and a great attitude, she’s ready to take on the world!
If you have a story to share about someone who has faced the battle against breast cancer, please share your story with us.
Be Your Own CEO and Stay Healthy,