This may seem like a funny place to start a site about breast cancer, but I find it is an important topic to many women who have breast cancer, especially the newly diagnosed. So I figured it’s as good a place as any to begin.
You can reduce your risk
Let’s start by making it abundantly clear – what and how you eat did not cause your breast cancer. Yes, there are certainly better, healthier choices of foods to eat, and worse choices, but cancer is very complex and you cannot control it or prevent it simply by eating more berries and greens and less red meat. You can reduce your risk of breast cancer through proper diet and exercise, but unfortunately you can’t reduce your risk to zero.
If it was that easy, no one would ever need to see an oncologist – we’d all stay healthy simply by eating and living right.
Breast cancer is just something that happens
At times it feels kind of random about who is affected. Consider my story… I’m a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist, regular exerciser, breast fed two children, don’t smoke, don’t drink, have been “normal” weight all my life, etc. etc. etc. And yet, despite “doing the right things” for most of my adult life, here I am running breastcancerkitchen.com as both an experienced patient and nutrition professional.
A healthy diet and lifestyle can help
Having said all that, eating healthier foods can help. The benefits of a healthy diet are many including helping you maintain a healthy body weight (which can help reduce the risk of developing breast cancer), helping keep your heart and other organs in better shape, and providing the vitamins and minerals that your body needs to function optimally. You can also often save money. YES, I said save money, as many healthy foods will actually cost less than store – prepared or processed foods, if you are careful with your selections.
I’ve spoken to a number of women who blame themselves when breast cancer strikes. They say things like, “I knew I wasn’t eating enough fruits and vegetables”, “I should have eaten less red meat”, and “I shouldn’t have let myself gain all that weight after my first child was born.” To that, I say nonsense! While you can certainly do things to help reduce your risk of developing the disease, scientists don’t yet fully understand why breast cancer happens. If we knew what caused it, we wouldn’t have the disease. We would simply stop doing the offending activity.
Stop blaming yourself and start figuring out how to get well again
The bottom line is that good food is necessary to help keep you strong and healthy. While there are “better” foods and “less better” foods, I believe that nearly all foods can be part of a healthy varied diet. So please don’t blame yourself, you’ve done nothing wrong. You just happen to have been a little unlucky.
Now that you have breast cancer, please don’t despair. Instead, get to work finding doctors and other members of your team you can count on to get you back to living your life to the fullest.