I discovered my lump, if you can call a nine centimeter tumor a lump. It’s really more the size of a grapefruit. I discovered it when I was weaning my son, Luke, when he was six months old. As my breasts deflated and the milk dried up, it became clear there was something very hard growing inside me. I had thought it was mastitis, a blocked milk duct. So did my doctors. At first they told me to go home and massage it and put hot compresses on it, and to come back in a week. In my heart I knew something was wrong, but I never dreamed it would be breast cancer.
So, how did she beat it?
I exercised almost every day of chemotherapy – even when I didn’t feel like it. Twice a week Pilates made my core so strong that when it came time for surgery, the orderlies didn’t have to lift me from the gurney to the bed. I lifted myself up without any help using my stomach muscles.
When I didn’t do Pilates, I ran — even when it got very cold, even when there were tears running down my face. A friend of mine sent me some UnderArmour caps to sleep and run in because it’s mighty chilly when you have no hair. The exercise eased the nausea. I can honestly say I didn’t have a single day of nausea throughout treatment.
I completely changed my diet at the time of diagnosis. Research showed that while we triple negative sisters don’t have drugs to prevent a recurrence, a low saturated fat diet and 4 — 5 hours of exercise a week can lower the chance of a recurrence by 60 percent. That was enough for me. Exercise and a strict diet became my tamoxifen. I eliminated all sugar from my diet, all packaged foods, and began buying everything organic. No more dairy. No alcohol (breast cancer patients and survivors should not drink — studies show that more than 2 drinks a week can raise the risk of a recurrence significantly. I now only drink water (lots of it), sparkling water, green tea and one black cup of coffee a day. No more lattes. No more bagels with cream cheese. Essentially, it is whole grains and lots of fruits and vegetables — with some Chia seeds (flax equivalent with tons of Omega-3s) thrown on top. I eat lots of salmon (wild caught only, please), broccoli, cabbage, quinoa and oatmeal with walnuts and dates — all great anti-oxidants, all great anti-inflammatories.