In the United States, October is hailed as Breast Cancer Awareness month . According to statistics from Breast Cancer.Org, it’s estimated that one in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime, and over 300,000 new cases have already been diagnosed in 2014 alone.
This week, ABC correspondent, Joan Lunden has been visiting the set of the Today Show for their #pinkpower series. Joan, who is fighting her own battle with breast cancer, also appeared on the cover of People magazine without her wig. Her message to other patients, “Be empowered. Be your own best advocate.”
The diagnosis of breast cancer affects people in different ways. Joan says she didn’t cry when she received the news because she immediately went into what she calls, warrior mode. “You have to take care of yourself and believe you’re going to be okay in the end,” she said. “It’s better for me to stay in the thought process that I will beat this no matter what.”
Many people talk about the fight against breast cancer, but for women who have already been diagnosed, the fight through it, becomes top priority. Though patients may feel a loss of control during their treatment, it’s important for them to focus on all the mental and physical things they can still do to maintain a sense of empowerment.
- Be Involved – There are decisions that patients will need to make about surgery and other courses of treatment. Listen to the options, ask questions, consult with your support system and then meet with your treatment team.
- Establish a Support System – Try to take at least one person with you during doctors visits. Have that person be in charge of writing down the information that was discussed, and remind you of any questions you wanted to ask.
- Educate Yourself – Doctors will be bombarding you with new information about your disease and the treatment options. Take the time to read through the literature and do your own investigating on reputable websites so you’ll have a better knowledge about the process.
- Eat Right – Breast cancer patients report that eating a low-calorie diet filled with whole grains and cruciferous vegetables and completely omitting sugar and processed foods from their diet aided in their overall well-being and even lessened the effects of chemotherapy.
- Yoga and Stretching – While training for a 5K is not advised during the initial treatment for breast cancer, doing mild exercises like yoga, walking and stretching can help reduce stress and ease minor aches.
- Rest – Know when to say when. Chemotherapy is taxing and drains the body of crucial reserves. Even the most active woman in warrior mode needs to take time for rest as part of the overall treatment plan.
Regarding her decision to appear bald on the cover of People Magazine, Joan said, “I know there are women out there who literally will say no to chemo because they’re so worried about losing their hair. That astonishes me because what’s the alternative? I’m totally 100 percent bald right now. I’ll bet you that a year from now, I’ll look back on this as like a little curve in the road. It won’t define me.”