During October everyone is reminded that more research is needed to reduce the incidence of breast cancer. Things usually not pink turn pink. Everything from pumpkins to football players switch colors to pink.
This campaign to increase public awareness of breast cancer has been going on for decades. Money is needed for laboratory studies and education but awareness is more important.
Anyone can develop this sometimes deadly cancer but women are the predominant victims. The earlier that the deadly growth is detected, the better the risk of eliminating it.
There is a woman who works with me who is undergoing treatment for breast cancer. I have known this lady for years, and I have watched her take her health very seriously.
First she enrolled in a class to learn more about healthy eating. I walked her through the basics to receive essential proteins, vitamins and minerals. One of the ways that she decreased her weight was by removing sugar and alcohol.
Then I watched her enroll in as many physical fitness classes as her schedule allowed. She changed her BMI from a high percentage of fat to an even higher percentage of muscle.
Her wardrobe was too big for her. She bought bright and bold colors to wear. She was like a caterpillar turning into a butterfly.
Then she got breast cancer. This shocking news made healthy eating and staying physically fit a farce. How can this woman who worked so hard to be healthier get hit with this devastating news?
She followed all the rules. Staying in shape is one of the main means of reducing the risk of all cancers. Her exercise and sweat didn’t protect her from cancer like it was supposed to do.
All the fruits and vegetables that she learned to like did not shield her from this deadly growth. No matter how many changes to her diet, nothing guarded her from breast cancer.
Over the years, I had been a casual bystander in this woman’s life. A polite hello with an encouraging smile was the extent of our mutual professional respect.
After months of her cancer treatment, I found the opportunity to talk to her and commend her for the years of healthy eating and physical fitness. I reminded her of our first session that was loaded with good nutrition facts and recommendations. I applauded her for deleting the sugar from her coffee and candy bars from her afternoon snack.
We laughed as she told me about the menu mistakes that she made with her family at first. She learned healthier cooking methods over the years and found ways to make fewer processed foods. The produce section of the grocery store is her favorite.
Then she explained her chemo and radiation schedule and how it has not interfered with her work. She proudly announced that so far she has not missed one day of work because of breast cancer.
Then I asked her a soul searching question, “Why you?” I will never forget her response. “Why not me,” she replied. Breast cancer survivors are my heroes.
Bobbie Randall is a certified diabetes educator, registered, licensed dietitian. She supervises a Diabetes Self-Management Training Program at Dunlap Community Hospital, Orrville, Ohio. Contact her at [email protected]