Recover Making Sense of Breast Cancer
No one really knows exactly why we get breast cancer, but what we do know is that there are certain risk factors that contribute to the development of the disease.
Some blame it on lifestyle, some on family history and other risk factors. Some say that it’s just the luck of the draw; or that it’s the universe sending us a wake-up call; or that maybe it’s our bodies sending us a message that we’re not taking care of ourselves in a healthy, productive way.
In the end, no one really knows precisely why we get breast cancer. But, when we do, being the warriors that we are, we confront it, deal with it and overcome it -- some of us more successfully than others.
If we were to attempt to make sense of breast cancer, at least from a scientific perspective, then according to the American Cancer Society, certain changes in our DNA can cause normal breast cells to become cancer. DNA is the chemical in each of our cells that makes up our genes -- the instructions for how our cells work. Some inherited DNA changes (mutations) can increase the risk for developing cancer and can cause the cancers that run in our families.
From a holistic perspective, and according to Ayurvedic Philosophy -- or the “science of life” -- the rising incidence of cancer is caused by an imbalance in our bodies (physical, mental, emotional and spiritual) and the drastic changes in our lifestyle and dietary habits, especially the use of chemical and synthetic food items, which deprive us from the adequate mineral intake that we get from more pure and natural sources.
Many of the food items that we consume are deficient in the minerals we need to nourish our bodies. This deficiency causes acidification, which leads to poor absorption of the essential metals needed by our bodies. In addition, eating disorders, irregular eating patterns, anxiety, stress, depression and other lifestyle factors contribute to the formation of acids and toxins in the body, which could result in inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract . The accumulation of toxins and the gradual suppression of the immune system lead to abnormal activities in the different tissues of the body – an imbalance in our system – and can ultimately lead to cancer.
According to the American Association for Cancer Research, estrogen plays a key role in the development of breast cancer. While it is necessary for the normal development of our breasts and vital organs for childbearing, as well as maintaining our heart and healthy bones, a lifetime of exposure to estrogen can increase a woman’s risk of breast cancer. Being well informed and more knowledgeable about how chemicals in the environment can affect our body’s estrogen levels, and how diet and lifestyle factors affect estrogen exposure cumulatively over our lifetime, may help us make more-informed decisions about our bodies and exposure to environmental risk factors.
As they say, knowledge is power, and the more knowledgeable we are about our health and well being, the better off we are -- especially after breast cancer.
It is important for us to have information and knowledge about breast cancer upon our diagnosis and about our recommended treatment protocol. However, it is even more important for us to understand the impact of breast cancer on us physically, mentally, emotionally and, for some of us, spiritually. We cannot begin to recover from breast cancer until we fully understand its impact.
It is also important for you to know what you should expect after treatment so that you can manage all aspects of your life in the most effective way. Life after treatment will not be the same as it was before. We are not the same as we were before our diagnosis because most medical illnesses, as proven by research, lead to some sort of personal transformation, whether it is positive or negative. Of course, we hope for the positive.
In either case, we all emerge from our breast cancer experience with a new identity, i.e., our survivor identity. In reality, however, not everyone embraces the idea of being a survivor. Even though there can be positive meanings attached to “survivorship,’’ some women have altered their attachment to the term or have rejected being acknowledged as a breast cancer survivor. Some feel their cancer experience was not severe enough to merit this title or they want their disease to be a private disease experience.
Whatever your position and however you view yourself after your breast cancer experience, it is an individual choice. We are only here to serve as a resource to help you recover from breast cancer and live a long, healthy and vibrant life.
We hope that you find meaning that makes sense out of your breast cancer experience and that there is a desire for you to ask “what can I learn from my bout with breast cancer that has a positive outcome?”
You can share what you have learned from your experience by posting it on our survivor stories page or start a discussion in our partner forum.