Breast Cancer Diagnosis, “How Long Will I Live?”

16 Oct

Kim Troike-Selfie

Breast Cancer still effects one in eight women and tragically many die every year. It remains a killer. Though, we strive to uplift, offer hope, and tie a pink ribbon around the fact that we care. Its not enough in my opinion. I want less deaths.

Numerous studies have been looked at, to find out if vitamin D has a positive impact upon the life or death of a woman or man with breast cancer. Vitamin D has been touted to lower the risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, multiple sclerosis, viruses, rheumatoid arthritis, depression, obesity, colon and breast cancer. Really, all these?

Still scientists can not make the connection that taking vitamin D will prevent or help to prevent breast cancer. Vitamin D was originally thought to be a necessary vitamin that we had to consume, however, the discovery that exposure to the sun made it was surreal. All the while, we lather blocking agents to protect us from the sun, yet we actually need it. After-all who eats cod liver oil, salmon, and oysters? Maybe the fishermen from The Deadliest Catch do. For now, the Sunshine Vitamin has hit pay-dirt; there seems to be no bad news about it.

And what about that Mediterranean diet with extra-virgin olive oil? A JAMA article of Internal Medicine that followed 4,000 women found quite a significant decreased breast cancer risk, a 68% LESS risk. Dr. Judith Hopkins says its a wonderful diet for heart attack and stroke prevention, too. The theory, not yet proven, is that extra-virgin olive oil might lower the estrogen levels. Fruits and vegetables with nuts, fish and poultry round out the diet with less emphasis on the meat. Weight loss is another factor as many who develop breast cancer are overweight and post menopausal, yet, young people develop it, too.

Dr. Judith Hopkins says, “You can do everything correctly, so to speak, but you can still get breast cancer.”

Why then are women made to feel like they brought it upon themselves, like its their fault. Don’t eat red meat, cut down on fat, lose weight, exercise, breastfeed, don’t have babies over thirty, don’t drink, don’t smoke, thin white females are very vulnerable. Did your mother, aunt or sister have it? What about the color of your skin? Are you black? The list goes on and on: yet, you can be the right weight, be healthy, no family history, breastfed all ten kids, bore babies before thirty, eat vegetarian and still get breast cancer, maybe even die.

Estimates given by researchers for 2015 is 231,840 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer. Forty thousand will die. And they say these numbers are down. One can see why women are scared and nervous when given the diagnosis. Its not what they ordered. It is very traumatic. They know that surgery, radiation, chemotherapy and hair loss are on their horizon. They are not sure if they will live as many die. Many doctors differ on treatment or they work with the patient on choice of treatment. Questions like are you at the best place? Will you have to take drugs everyday in the future after you manage to get through the first six months to a year? It is a process, not an overnight or one month deal. Does your hospital offer tattoos and nipples for a more natural look after a double mastectomy? Or will you look disfigured and scarred forever? Of course, you are elated you made it through, but you are the one that has to look in the mirror everyday after a shower and see, to be reminded of breast cancer.

Staging, one of the most important and dreaded parts of the whole process is done to see how far it has spread. If you have an advanced stage, then the latest thing is to call it a chronic disease. Though, I’m waiting to hear from the person with active stage IV breast cancer to say it’s gone completely. Probably, the words will be it hasn’t spread any further or I’m not in pain.

Living becomes the joy and that joy is magnified beyond words because each day with the world is a pretty one. A person finds those moments to be especially touching, and the feeling over takes such individual that in a way they become greater, happier and stronger than the very pretty, pink ribbons so many give to and have hope for. For every woman who gets a clean mammogram or doesn’t have to hear the words you have breast cancer, they too rejoice quietly and with a sigh, “Thank God.”

Still, breast cancer patients are at the mercy of the treatments and it remains a killer. Enough of the guilt laid upon women, since many angels on earth get it for no apparent reason. Doctors, find more permanent cures. Women, find it early and seek treatment. And of course, be as healthy as you can be.

An article in Forbes magazine indicates a report by BMJ and a study of 174,000 Dutch women. The results are that women have a better outcome with early detection. The less lymph node involvement the better. The smaller the tumor at diagnosis the better. Prognosis is still based upon lymph node involvement and tumor size.

*As a registered nurse who has worked in healthcare and institutions for many years, and have known breast cancer survivors this seems to hold true for survival overall in my opinion. Early detection of all kinds seems to be key. Work with your provider for best results. Asses your risk, age, family, etc. Get a mammogram. This is Breast Cancer Awareness month.

*My novel Into the Vines is available on Amazon and happens to be FREE on October 16th. One of my main protagonists, Brie, deals with breast cancer. Come read about her and how this changes her life; she’ll inspire you and maybe others that you know are dealing with this dreaded diagnosis. Everyone needs someone that can help them to have hope.

Kim Troike is an author, mother, registered nurse and survivor who lives in Atlanta, Georgia. She writes for theivorytide.com and gardenlilie.com.

Op-Ed

By Kim Troike

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