While Breast Cancer is something that all of our warriors experience and fight for every day, October is an opportunity to spread this awareness on an even high level and open the world's eyes to what this disease really is.
Hello, warriors! Welcome back to the blog and welcome back to part two of our blog discussing what breast cancer awareness means to us. While we are rapidly approaching the end of October and the end of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, we hope you know how incredibly proud we are of each of you. We know this year's difficult situation has prevented us from doing what we all normally like to do to spread awareness, raise money, and gather with our fellow fighters, supporters, and warriors. 2020 can't cancel our hope, our fight, our journey, or the color pink. We all continue to stand in solidarity together, continue to fight together, and support one another. We know this year might be weighing heavy on you and your family, but please believe us when we say that we understand and we are with you. Please continue on your journey, continue with your fight, and continue using your story to prepare and educate others. Your fight can be a light in the darkness for others and for the rest of 2020 and beyond. Have you been feeling at a loss this month, that you haven't found your voice in this battle, that you're not giving back enough or doing enough? Don't be discouraged. Your voice and everything you're doing every day speaks volumes. To help give our own bit of help and support for the rest of Breast Cancer Awareness Month and beyond, we wanted to create a blog on how to make everyday Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
Your voice, your journey, and how you choose to handle and battle your diagnosis is a testament in itself. Even if you aren't particularly vocal or you don't share your experience in a blog or through social media, that doesn't mean your journey doesn't impact others. When you go in for your treatments, consider the people sitting around you. This could be their very first or very last treatment. A kind smile, sharing your experiences with them, or just being a positive presence within this little snapshot of time can cause a ripple effect to those battling around you. How youR battle progresses also doesn't go unnoticed by your doctor or nurses. They find comfort, inspiration, and drive from how hard you fight and in the relationship you build together.
Your journey and battle can bring you closer to your loved ones than ever before and can create a bond that you never expected. How you live in your survivorship and how you share your experiences with a new friend or coworker leaves an impression too. Don't think you have to shout from the rooftops and put yourself in the spotlight if you don't want to. Every step of your journey affects someone. If you want to be public about your experience, that is a welcomed expression too. Writing a blog, documenting your experiences on Facebook or Instagram, being a mentor to someone recently diagnosed, participating in group meetings, and more can also help others and raise awareness. No matter how you chose to share and express your experience, both are just as important and beneficial as the other.
There are many steps you and your loved ones can take to promote awareness throughout the entire year, here are some tips and suggestions to make that possible.
We know that your voice is important. Each of your individual stories is worth telling, saving, and sharing. We know that awareness and what we need to cure breast cancer isn't at the level that it deserves and what it should be. Every day we are fighting to make your voices louder, the cure closer, and helping to educate the world about this horrible disease. While so much of the world just sees Breast Cancer Awareness Month as pink ribbons and fundraisers, we see your stories, your pain, your frustrations, and all that you go through every day. Let us stand together to make Breast Cancer Awareness month more than just a month, and finally beat this disease once and for all.
The Mysteries of Breast Pain
Sometimes your breasts can ache or hurt, and the cause behind them can be a multitude of strange and unknown reasons. We will be exploring all of this today!
Hello, warriors! Today we are going to be talking about breast pain. While we are on high alert to breast abnormalities and lumps that appear in the breast sometimes overnight, not all breast pain is caused by or linked to breast cancer. It is of course, very important to stay very aware of this pain, and if it continues. As we've mentioned before, any changes to your breasts need to be brought to your doctor's attention right away. They could be an early sign of something potentially very dangerous or something that has no explanation at all. Breast pain, technically called "mastodynia", often has no known cause. Your breast tissue is affected by many things like your hormones, your stress, infection, or illnesses elsewhere in the body, and your caffeine intake. Breast pain can be intermittent, sharp and shooting, dull and constant, or a burning sensation. While breast pain isn't necessarily a sign of breast cancer, it is a sign that something abnormal is going on.
Breast pain can be sharp, dull, constant, or intermittent. Breast pain can have a multitude of causes including but not limited to stress, caffeine intake, hormone imbalances, musculoskeletal trigger points, and abnormal changes to the breast tissue. There are several ways to investigate causes like lab work and imaging. If you are experiencing breast pain, contact us for a consultation to discuss potential causes and treatment options, and to have a clinical breast exam with a licensed provider. Here at TBP, a clinical breast exam, imaging, and lab work are often tools we use to find out what's causing that pain and what you can do to alleviate it. If you are experiencing breast pain, we are happy to see you in the office for an exam and work up. Today we are going to be expanding on what breast pain could and could not be, and diving more into mastodynia.
First and foremost, breast pain is common and something many women go through. It can be a consistent pain or it can only happen occasionally. One of the most common occurrences of breast pain is in the few days leading up to your period. This is a normal occurrence and this mild or moderate pain can appear in both breasts. According to Healthline, the fluctuating hormone levels that appear in your body during and leading up to your period are what's to blame. Your breasts can feel tender and even swell during these times. You will have a spike in your estrogen and progesterone production levels during your cycle. Estrogen will cause you breast ducts to enlarge and progesterone production will cause the milk glands to swell. Both of these reactions will cause soreness in your breasts. The pain can be felt throughout the month too, and have no connection to your period.
Breast pain can also occur during menopause. During the twelve months leading up to menopause, a woman is in a transitioning period called perimenopause. During perimenopause, your levels of estrogen and progesterone fluctuate. Although, these fluctuations are much more dramatic during perimenopause compared to your menstrual cycle, according to Medical News Today. The dull and sore ache that comes from the side effects of these fluctuations can escalate to more of a burning or throbbing. Once you do officially reach menopause, the pain should be finished, but your risk of breast cancer does increase. If you are experiencing strange pains, your doctor needs to be alerted right away.
Reasons Behind The Pain
There are also many other reasons why your breasts could be hurting.
Since breast pain is so common and is something many women will have to deal with, what are some ways to deal with the pain? Some of the best management steps are all linked to self-care.
Breast pain can be scary if you don't know what's going on. We hope this blog sheds some light on what you're going through, and we hope it calmed your nerves. If you have any questions, comments, or concerns please feel free to reach out. Be well out there, we know that you're fighting hard. You are not alone in this, and you never will be!
Early detection is extremely important. During your self-breast exams, you might find a lump or mass that may or may not be cancer. Here are a few things to keep in mind.
Hello warriors! We hope this blog finds you happy and well. We've talked about the importance of early detection in almost every blog, eblast, and social media post we've ever made. We can't stress enough just how important they are. With our last few blogs discussing the realities of breast cancer appearing in younger generations more often than many people realize, self-exams continue to become more and more important. When you're young, your breast tissue is denser and harder to penetrate and locate anything out of the ordinary in a mammogram. This makes your self-exams so important. You know when something doesn't feel right on your body or has seemed to appear overnight, and you will know and notice better than anyone else. Bringing these changes to your doctor's attention is crucial, but sometimes these aren't always lumps that are connected to cancer. It is so easy to get wrapped up and scared, constantly asking yourself "is this cancer, or is this something else?". This is why it is so important to understand what the different lumps and masses are that could appear inside and around your breast.
First of all, you need to know a little bit more about the breast tissue and the breast itself. The breast tissue is made up of adipose (fat) tissue, lobules, and ducts. There is a chain of lymph nodes known as the intramammary lymph nodes that run within the breast tissue as well. There are many benign masses like cysts, fibroadenomas, abscesses, and fat necrosis that occurs in the breast. Some should be removed by a breast surgeon and some are fine to let be as long as they don't grow or become painful - always make that decision with a trained surgeon. The density of your breast tissue can also affect how these lumps are to be felt or palpitated. As you age, your breast tissue becomes replaced with fatty tissue that is not as dense, making visualizing these abnormalities on mammograms easier. Some benign masses can increase your risk for breast cancer so even though they are benign, it;s important to notify your provider of any changes. When in doubt, get it checked out!
[Breast cancer lumps]
Let's start with the more dangerous lumps and bumps on this list before we talk about the more benign things you might be feeling. According to Stony Brook Cancer Center, most of the breast lumps you'll be feeling will be benign, won't be cancerous, and most won't have to be removed. If they are, this won't affect the breast's natural function.
The early signs of breast cancer are different for every woman. According to the Susan G. Komen foundation, the most common warning signs of cancer in its earliest stages are nipple discharge, a change in how your nipple looks or feels, or a change in how your breast looks or feels. If you have these symptoms, please notify your doctor.
Breasts themselves have a lumpy texture. Not every unique lump that you feel is a tumor or lump that needs attention, but a part of your natural breast makeup. The lumps that should catch your attention are those that feel different from the rest of your breast tissue, ones that feel hard, and ones that have suddenly appeared.
According to Stony Brook Cancer Center, these lumps or thickenings will appear most often in the top part of the outer breast and into the armpit. The tissue is thicker there than anywhere else on your breast. According to VeryWellHealth, some other warning signs include these hard bumps not moving during your self-examination and that your breast might feel like it has a very pebbly surface. There are a few precancerous lumps that also need strict attention and should be removed right away.
[Benign lumps and masses]
There are many different types of benign masses that you might come across in your lifetime. As we've mentioned, many of them are not dangerous and you might not have to have them removed at all. You should still be aware of what you're feeling.
Knowing your breasts and the lumps and bumps inside them are very important. Being educated on what you're feeling can calm your fears and worries, and help you to action rather than panic. If you have any questions or concerns, never hesitate to reach out. We would rather look and find something benign than being kept in the dark about something serious.
Did you know we will donate $1 for every unit of Botox administered to breast cancer patients and research? We are partnering with various organizations such as the American Cancer Society, Hope Lodge and *soon* Share Our Suzy Lowcountry to give back to the breast cancer community. Be well out there, we know that you're fighting hard. You are not alone in this, and you never will be!
Continuing with the second part of our Beauty Regimes During Treatment blog, we want to touch on care for your hair, your nails, and beauty product options.
We are back with the second part of our Beauty Regime blog, with tips and suggestions on how to make yourself physically feel better during and after treatment. In the first part of this blog, we talked about mental health, skincare, and beauty products that can make a world of difference. They can help you feel more comfortable, more at ease, and feel more like you. For this blog, we are going to be adding a few more tips for makeup, regrowth of your hair, and caring for your nails. Your hair and nails are sometimes the two biggest factors during treatment where you will see effects before anywhere else in your body. Depending on how you react to treatment, as you know, you can begin to lose hair all over your body, not just on your head. It is already difficult to lose your hair, but attention needs to be drawn to the difficulties of losing your eyebrows, your eyelashes, and even your arm hair. It's a hard adjustment and can make you feel a little out of touch from your own body.
The same goes for your nails. Unless you're within the circle of diagnosis, treatment, and survivorhood, how chemo and treatment affect your nails can come as a big surprise. It can be a painful process for your nails. They can become very brittle, begin to crack and flake, and even fall out. This can happen to both your fingernails and toenails, making everyday tasks difficult and making shoes very painful to wear. Taking time to care for your scalp, skin, and nail beds during and after your treatment can help with encouraging healthy hair regrowth and healthier nails.
One of the first things we wanted to mention is that there are so many amazing outlets available to you to help your survivorship journey. While planning this blog, we stumbled across many important resources but wanted to share one in particular. We found an amazing channel on YouTube called "Breast Cancer Care". Not only do they have videos on how to give self-breast exams, but they also have tons of different videos on how to care for and create eyebrows, eyelashes, skin care, lip care, and more for those going through chemo and beyond. Visit their channel by following the link below. This channel and their website is an incredible resource and a huge comfort for those going through treatment and recovery!
Being kind to your hair, even if it's not so kind to you during treatment, is key. Using mild shampoos and conditioners can help care for your skin and hair while it's going through so much during treatment. There are also many other head covering options available to you. You can add a wig into your wardrobe if you'd like. A lot of insurance companies, according to Everyday Health, will cover the cost of a wig for medical purposes with a prescription for a cranial prosthesis. Soft and gentle head scarfs are also an option to keep your head warm and protected from the sun and other natural elements. Keeping your head covered can help regulate your body temperature, which is key in keeping you healthy. Please do not forget sunscreen if you're going to be outside. We also encourage you to invest in a deep healing lotion for your skin. After your treatment has ended, there are wonderful all-natural growth options to help stimulate your hair, eyelashes, and nail growth. After treatment, as your hair begins to regrow, it will be very fragile. Be kind to it in every way possible. Keep it short until it becomes stronger, and avoid dying or getting it permed or chemically straightened during this regrowth process.
The focus on hair loss often overshadows the effect that chemo and treatment can have on your nails. Using a cuticle cream and moisturizing hand lotion can strengthen your nail beds. Keeping your nails short and trimmed neatly can avoid painful tears, cracks, and infection. Avoid using acrylic and other similar nail techniques, as they can lead to infection. If you want to use a polish, use all-natural and water-based polish brands. Avoid going to the nail salon if you can, but if you have to go, bring your own sterilized equipment, polish, and tools. Make sure all spaces that your nails are worked on are thoroughly cleaned and disinfected before you get your nails done. Avoid chewing on your nails and cuticles, as opening up your skin or creating an irritation can also lead to infection.
Please remember that you can visit us through your treatments and survivorship journey. We provide scar revision, body contouring, facial rejuvenation, and laser hair removal, among our many resources. How you define and feel beautiful in your skin is whats important. No one has the power to take that from you or define how you should be doing this for yourself. Be bold, be strong, and continue to fight beautifully. If you have any questions about this any of our services, don't hesitate to reach out. During these continued difficult times, we encourage you to take extreme caution protecting yourself and your loved ones from the pandemic. Please stay safe and be well.
Healing from Emotional Scars
Breast cancer and its treatments leave behind scars of many kinds. Healing from your physical and emotional scars are a part of your healing process. Both need to be looked after with equal amounts of care.
Hello dear friends. We hope where ever you are while reading this, you know you are not alone. Where ever you are on your journey, you are strong enough to fight. In this blog, we will be talking about scars. Not necessarily the scars that are left behind from radiation, chemo, and surgery. We will be talking about the emotional scars that come along with fighting this battle. These scars need to be cared for and healed just as much as your physical scars do. This process can take time, but we promise it's worth it. Not dealing with these scars can make the journey into returning to the life you want difficult or even impossible. A scar is something a warrior should be proud of. You went through the fight, and you won. You are now more aware, realistic, stronger, and wiser.
Your cancer treatments will affect your body physically, but it goes way beyond that. It can affect how you feel, think, and like to do things in your life. Treatment can even change the way your brain works. Yes, chemo brain is a real thing! You could be facing mental changes in how you learn, how well you concentrate, and how well you remember. There is nothing wrong with you, these are common effects for many people going through treatment. Also, how your treatments will affect you mentally and physically is unique to each person. It is important to be informed and educated about what is happening to your body before, during, and after your treatment. Discussing and researching how you can help yourself stay as healthy mentally and physically as possible is also key to this process.
Long term and short term effects of treatment can affect your mental health. Depression, anxiety, and fear can develop during treatment. After treatment a lot of this fear is based on the worry and possibility that your cancer could return. Anxiety can bloom out of the initial shock of taking in all of the information you're given at the beginning of your journey. This can make it very difficult to cope or comprehend what is going on.
While going through and working on your emotional healing, keeping an open line of communication is very important. Make sure to talk about how you're feeling. Express it, work through your emotions, and try to continue past them. Working through these emotions can help you move towards a more positive attitude, and to help you cope with life in general. Make sure to be open with your care team, a medical professional, or a trusted loved one. Holding in these emotions and feelings can be very hurtful. Feeling angry can get in the way of taking care of yourself. Sometimes, it can energize you. Use these emotions for a positive outcome, don't stew inside of them. Prioritize your mental health. You are allowed to feel how you do. They are valid emotions and you are worthy to feel this way. Allow yourself to grieve, but don't let it last forever.
Your body could be facing many different kinds of changes, too. Some may only last for a little while, while others could stay forever. Even if you don't show these changes, you could still see them. Anger and grief are natural reactions to this situation. It can affect your sex drive. It might make you feel that your appearance has changed how your loved ones look at you, respond to you, and will act around you. These natural reactions can also cause depression, anxiety, and fear.
Things That Can Help:
After treatment, it might be strange that you aren't always in panic mode. You're so used to that feeling, that it can be mentally jarring to start going back to some sense of normalcy. But that normalcy can place a lot of burden on you as well. Getting back to your sense of normal can take time. Even with the victory and empowerment that you've successfully beaten cancer. It might take time to feel like you can go back to your life again. Your normal may not be the same again, and it's difficult to adjust to that. Remember, your breasts are not who you are nor do they represent who you are.
Healing doesn't just happen overnight and then you're better. It has many stages and steps along the way. Take the time to do what you need. We are here for you along every step of the way and are always here to talk when you need us. Never hesitate to reach out. Continue to fight, be proud of the journey you're on, and be well.
The Realities of Early Detection
Early detection is one of the most important life-saving factors when wanting to prevent and fight breast cancer. If you can start on the journey early in your life, it might save and protect that life you've built and created.
We've made it to May, friends! We are so thankful to be here with you today and thankful that there is a little more positive news in the world these days. There is still so much that we need to be cautious about, but as breast cancer warriors, that is not a new idea. We've shared some important facts on the realities of what it's like to live with breast cancer while raising children, personal stories of those fighting breast cancer, and how to better your quality of life while living through diagnosis and treatment. One topic that we are extremely passionate about is early detection. We spend a lot of time educating on the topic, spreading awareness on how to begin early detection, and helping those who could benefit from early detection. In this blog, we wanted to share some of the realities of why early detection is so important, tips on what you should be looking out for, some tips on how to stay as healthy as possible, and what early detection could mean for you.
We know that breast cancer is the second most diagnosed cancer in women and one of the most fatal. At the end of the day, catching it as soon as possible is key. As of now, there isn't a cure for breast cancer, making early detection more important every day. The purpose of early detection is to find and identify any breast abnormalities as soon as possible. If breast cancer or it's beginning stages are found and caught sooner, it can be treated more efficiently. There are more treatment options available to you and there is a higher rate of survival if caught sooner.
We've talked about the reality that breast cancer can appear in women under the age of 40 in some of our most recent blogs. It does happen more often than the general public cares to admit. Mammograms are not efficient enough for women under the age of 40, as the breast tissue is still to firm for the mammogram to penetrate through and provide a clear reading of what's happening inside the breast itself. This is when self-breast examinations come into play and become incredibly important. By the time you've reached early adulthood, you should be doing a monthly breast exam, regardless of your family's history of breast cancer. It never hurts to be safe. Self-breast examinations are the best tool for discovering early stages and signs of breast cancer, and any findings should always be reported to your doctor.
Breast cancer is a risk for everyone. The path you take will just be a little different depending on who you are, what your body has decided to do, and what your family history is. But know that no one is alone on this path. You might need to deal with these realities a little sooner than later, it might become a part of your medical appoints and gynecologist visits every year, but it will keep you healthier longer. Be kind to your body and follow the necessary steps to preserve your life. Stay strong, Lowcountry! We are in this fight and all the fight the world has currently given us, together. Today is another day that we have to live to the fullest.
Receiving the news that you have breast cancer is difficult and life-changing information. But, what happens if you're pregnant and receive this news?
Being diagnosed with breast cancer is the last thing you want to deal with, let alone when you have the happy news that you're pregnant. There is still such a stigma connected to breast cancer that it only happens later in life, and after menopause. But, as we've mentioned in previous blogs, breast cancer doesn't discriminate. It doesn't pay attention to age or sex. Women and men at all stages of life are vulnerable and susceptible to breast cancer, and that includes pregnant mothers. Being pregnant and expecting a child should always be a time of joy and happiness, but a diagnosis of breast cancer changes all of that. What does this mean for you and the baby? How will this change your treatments? What will the next nine months of pregnancy look like? This will be a delicate and complicated journey, one you need to plan very carefully with your obstetrician and your oncologist. You need to be very well informed about your choices and options, and to choose what path is best for you and your baby. These decisions and the treatments need to focus on not just getting rid of or treating your cancer. They also need to be chosen to keep your baby safe and healthy as well. This limits and changes what kind of treatment options are available to you and when exactly you can receive them throughout your three trimesters.
The positive news is that yes, as a pregnant woman, you treat your breast cancer. The tricky part is deciding what route you can safely go to protect your baby and still conquer your cancer. This all depends on a handful of factors. They include how healthy you are overall, how far along you are in your pregnancy if the cancer has started to spread and if it has where it has spread to, the size of your cancerous tumor, and where that tumor is located. For a pregnant woman, two of the safest options are surgery and chemotherapy, while radiation and other hormonal therapy treatments are recommended to be avoided until after you've delivered.
This treatment is safe for babies in the second or third trimester, but not in the first. In the first trimester, some of the most important development and growth occurs, and chemo can seriously interfere in that process. It also runs a higher risk of losing the baby if chemo is used during this time as well. Many of you might be skeptical that chemo is safe at any stage of pregnancy, but studies have shown that when using certain chemo drugs like cyclophosphamide and doxorubicin during the last two trimesters of pregnancy is safe. They don't have the risk of birth defects, health problems, or loss of the baby. The only risk studies have found is the risk of an early delivery. If you do decide or need to have surgery during this time, you will be deciding between a mastectomy or a lumpectomy, with follow up treatments of chemo recommended for the second trimester or later. If your diagnosis comes during your final trimester of pregnancy, chemo is usually recommended after the birth of your child. After week 35 of your pregnancy (out of a total of 40) chemo is no longer recommended. Chemo at this point can bring on early delivery, and it also lowers the mother's blood cell count. This lowered cell count can lead to dangerous issues during birth including infection and serious bleeding. Deciding to delay chemo until after the birth allows the mother's blood cell count to return to a healthy level, so the birth can be as safe as possible.
This is one of the safest routes for a pregnant woman to take while battling a cancer diagnosis. It is the safest to do at any trimester, and you don't have to delay it unless your obstetrician recommends otherwise. Mastectomies are generally the most preferred surgery for a pregnant woman. You can have a lumpectomy, removing just the breast tissue that contains cancer, but it does come with a few risks. A lumpectomy generally requires radiation to follow up that surgery, and radiation is not safe for the baby. But, putting off radiation for the mother, if it is needed, is very dangerous and could increase the risk in cancer returning. The only time a lumpectomy is usually recommended with radiation is if the cancer is found during the third trimester. If the surgery is performed close to the due date of the baby or very shortly after, very small wait time or no wait time at all is placed on the recommended radiation treatments. The removal of a lymph node, or possibly a few, are also needed during surgery. There are two different types of lymph node surgeries, one, in particular, being safer than the other. The removal of lymph nodes under your arm called an auxiliary lymph node dissection, which removes multiple lymph nodes, is the first choice. The second is called a sentinel lymph node biopsy. This uses a small amount of blue dye and radioactive tracers that pick out the nodes that could contain cancer. The blue dye and radioactive tracers come with heavy concerns since radiation is very bad for the baby. This treatment, although it may help with removing fewer lymph nodes, is not recommended during pregnancy. It is recommended to happen after pregnancy or late in your trimesters and without the use of the dye.
TREATMENTS AND THINGS TO AVOID
During your pregnancy, there are some treatments and situations you will need to keep you and your baby safe. Keep these in mind as you move forward. Also listed are a few difficult situations that you might have to face, too.
THINGS TO REMEMBER
During this time, you already have a lot on your plate and a lot on your mind. We wanted to leave you with some closing thoughts to remember as you begin this process.
We know and understand the difficulties you are facing during this time. It is unique, scary, and full of unknowns. We want to help you celebrate the joy of your pregnancy, all while helping you conquer your cancer. If you have any concerns or worries, please don't hesitate to reach out to us. We are here to answer your questions, guide you through this process, and discuss any concerns you might have. Know you are never alone, and there is always hope.
Healthy Decisions, Strong Immunity
Now more than ever, keeping your immune system strong is a necessity. For a breast cancer patient and during your treatments, this can be a very difficult task. How does breast cancer attack your immune system, how do treatments keep it weak, and what can you do to improve its strength and your quality of life?
Having cancer gives your life, and the lives you affect, a very unknown and sometimes scary feeling about what could or couldn't happen almost every day. Cancer treatments are changing every day, how your body responds to your treatments changes every day, and how you feel changes every day. The world today is starting to fill up with daily unknowns, uncertainties, and fear. What can happen, what could happen, and what is already happening is frightening. It is especially very frightening for people with compromised immune systems. Who has some of the most compromised immune systems? You do, my dear friend, as I am sure you have already been told many times before. Your body is already working against you as your cancer sets in, and then your immune system is completely compromised once you begin treatments. How unfair is that? In your daily battle, that is one of the most heartbreaking things we see every day.
But where is the science behind all of it? Cancer cells can sneak past your immune system and the white blood cells used to attack invaders in our bodies because they can look so similar to our normal healthy cells. It's almost like a game of hide and seek inside your body. Some cancer cells can even turn off part of your immune system once they attack, allowing the cancer cells to grow and multiply without being stopped. Cancer can also weaken your immune system if it travels and makes its way inside of your bone marrow. Inside your bone marrow is where your white blood cells are produced and cancer can shut down that production stripping your immune system of its power. But it's not just the disease itself that can lead to your immune system becoming weak, so can your treatments. These life-saving treatments that are needed to destroy the cancer cells can leave your body's immune system weak and not ready to fight. But they are still so important when it comes to saving your life.
Chemotherapy is the leading cause of damage to your immune system, but radiation and surgery can harm it as well. Chemotherapy is designed to kill rapid growth cells, which cancer is. But other rapidly growing cells are found in the most delicate parts of our body like in your bone marrow, blood, hair, and others. This will hurt the production of white blood cells, making your body more vulnerable to infection, sickness, and other issues.
During your cancer treatments and in the state of the world now, keeping your immune system as healthy as possible needs to become one of your top priorities. With that in mind, what can you do to keep yourself healthy and happy, while building up your immune system to whatever dangers are lurking out there? Follow these tips and suggestions to help you in your continued battle day in and day out!
You are fighting a battle inside your body and waging a war on the outside to keep yourself healthy and strong. Now more than ever it is so important to focus on keeping your immune system strong and to be as mindful as possible. It might be hard to not visit or see some of your family or friends to keep yourself healthy, avoiding public gatherings, and avoiding doing things you love doing. But, making these decisions could save your life and keep you healthy. Think smart and stay healthy, it will all be worth the trouble you are going through in the end.
A Queen; A Survivor
One of the best things we can do as a support group is to tell your stories. You have so much to share with those walking and struggling along a similar path, and no story is stronger than one told by those who need to tell it.
Happy February friends, fellow survivors, and fellow fighters. This month is usually one that celebrates love with candy hearts, cards, and enough rom-com films to drive you crazy. Red, pink, and white everything cover every surface of every drug store, department store, and grocery store that you walk into. But we are no strangers to the color pink. It's not just a color of love and Hallmark Holidays. It's a color of strength, fortitude, determination, and power. It's the color of battle and the color of remembrance. Valentine's Day is just one day, but love is something that should be celebrated in all forms every day. Love is something that keeps us fighting and gives us a reason one way or the other to get up and out of bed and to keep moving. Leave the candy and the cards behind, and let love carry you through all day every day. Don't let one day get you down, let it buoy you in remembering that love and determination are always with you.
In celebration of that idea, we are so excited to open up a new chapter in our blogs. If you have been following us on Instagram and Facebook (which, if you haven't yet, you should!) then you are probably familiar with our posts dedicated to #SurvivorSunday, and asking you to share your survivor stories with us. These are your stories to tell, and no one can tell them better than you. Now that we have had some incredible individuals share their stories with us, we will be dedicating some of our blogs to these people and the stories they have to tell.
We are so very excited to share our very first survivor story with you, and this extraordinary woman might look very familiar. We are honored to share with you the story of Savanna James, who was recently crowned Miss Summerville and will be going on to compete in the Miss South Carolina Pageant later this summer. Her platform is "Breast Cancer Awareness and Prevention." How incredible is that? Her story is unique. It is a story about being a high-risk survivor. We are so proud to share her story because she represents more than half of our patient population. We excited to have her as an advocate for awareness and early detection. We are also very thrilled to announce that she will be apart of our team this summer, and will be a part of several upcoming events. Please keep your eyes and calendars open for that.
Without further ado, we turn this blog over to Savanna James, so she can tell you her story.
"Being 24, I genuinely believed that my "adult" life was just getting started. I had moved to Charleston and started working as Vice President of East West Gem Co. I grew up acting and doing pageants, and even though I knew breast cancer was heavy in my family, I didn't think anything could affect me this early. Unfortunately, this reality was shattered at my yearly OBGYN appointment. I was referred to the Breast Place immediately. After meeting with Dr. Beatty, I was advised that it would be in my best interest to have a double mastectomy. The decision to move forward was not easy, especially at my age, but it is one I am very thankful that I was able to make. I have watched several family members suffer and ultimately pass away from breast cancer. I chose to compete for Miss Summerville, sharing my story, because there are so many people who are unaware that they might be living in the shadow of cancer. It is my hope that others will hear my story and seek help, feeling comforted in knowing that they have options. I do not feel like any less of a woman for going through with the procedure. I honestly feel empowered that I was able to make a strong choice, one that could ultimately save my life. As Miss Summerville, and as Savanna, I hope that others hear my story and are influenced to be proactive, get checked yearly and to do self-checks. At 24, I stand with the 1 in 8.
Dr. Beatty and The Breast Place fully supported Savanna’s decision to undergo a prophylactic mastectomy. This decision is huge and personal. It should be thought out by each individual who may be facing it with education and research to understand the risks and benefits of undergoing a major surgery. A mastectomy can be life changing as it alters the appearance of the body you have known from birth and the decision to undergo one with or without reconstruction should not be taken lightly. Dr. Beatty encourages everyone in a similar position to research the pros and cons of surgery and understand that reconstructive surgery can be difficult but beautiful. Here at The Breast Place, we support our patients making decisions that are best for them as an individual as healthcare is not “one size fits all.
Breast cancer doesn't choose who it claims. A pageant queen, a mother, a doctor, a sister, a friend, it doesn't matter. What does matter is exactly what Savanna shares, and that is to be aware and stay on top of your health. Take control and take your yearly checkups and self check-ups seriously. At just 24, she made a powerful decision, that although scary, empowered her and gave her the power of taking a step in her battle against cancer. We hope that Savanna's story does give you hope to seek help and take comfort in the fact that there are always options available to you. We are very grateful that Savanna found comfort and help with us, and we hope that if you're looking for the same, you know that our doors are always open to you. Don't live in the "shadow of cancer", but come out into the sun.
Thank you so much for sharing your story with us Savanna. We are so excited to see where your journey takes you, and to continue working with you in the future. We would also love to hear YOUR stories and to share your experience to comfort and inspire others. If you would like to share, email us your story and a photo of yourself to firstname.lastname@example.org and you may be featured on our social media or in an upcoming blog post.
Remember, don't let Cupid's arrow get you down, and don't let it pop a hole in your sails. Love is something that we celebrate daily, and something we celebrate with you daily. Your journey is a daily struggle. It's hard, messy, scary, and frustrating. Remember that you have a place you are always welcome, and please know you are never alone.