You’ve seen the hashtags #cancersucks, #cancer, #fightcancer and so on. The battle against the disease has become more public than ever with a variety of charity events and online campaigns in its support. For many people, these campaigns are personal because they or someone they know has been affected by the disease.
Chances are you know someone affected by cancer, too. Most likely breast cancer because it’s the most common cancer in Canadian women. You might be thinking that it won’t happen to you but the reality is that one in nine Canadian women will be diagnosed with breast cancer.
And contrary to popular belief, less than 10 per cent of breast cancers are linked to family history. The good news is one third of breast cancers are preventable, and your risk can be greatly reduced with a few positive lifestyle changes.
If you’re not sure where to start, the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation (CBCF) has created an online tool to help promote prevention and early detection. It automatically generates a personalized breast health plan which will give you an honest summary of what lifestyle changes you can make to reduce your risk of breast cancer.
To get started, go online and create your own, free breast health plan by answering a few simple questions such as how often you exercise, smoke, drink, and make health-conscious food decisions.
Based on your response, the breast health plan will recommend alternative options when it comes to what you eat, the products you use, and level of physical activity such as walking at least 30 minutes a day. Small lifestyle changes can have a tremendous impact on your health.
To encourage this, CBCF has created a new campaign called #OneNewThing. The goal: to get Canadian women out of their comfort zone and try new things to help reduce their risk of breast cancer. Have you always wanted to learn how to skate? Considered taking on a new hobby? Hesitated to try a new food? Put your fears aside and challenge yourself to find your #OneNewThing. Then share it on the website or using the hashtag #OneNewThing to inspire others to do the same.
Try something new, make gradual lifestyle changes, and reduce your risk of breast cancer. If you knew that small changes to your activity level, diet, or changing up your personal or household care items could reduce your risk of breast cancer, wouldn’t you do it? I thought so. For more information, visit www.cbcf.org/onenewthing.
Ever since I had a hysterectomy to treat cervical cancer back in 2007 — I was seven years clean in July! — I have had cancer on my mind. It's one of those realities that's hard to shake once you've looked at it squarely, and this is why I am publishing the above entry from the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation. I hope that one day cancer won't have to be any big thing, but since it very much is right now, I want us all to do what we can to make it less likely. There is no sure fire method that will keep you cancer-free, but there are small things we can do to try to lower the possibility.
The #OneNewThing breast health site and plan will seem fairly simple and obvious to some of you, but it's a great reminder to check in with our own behaviour and bodies and maybe be a little more conscious of some of our choices.
Me? I have quit smoking and drinking altogether. I kind of wish I had done that well before I got cancer, but we can't all have great timing. I might even be considering exercise now, which, frankly, might give me a bit of an identity crisis, but I'm told it's worth the work.
And you? If you dump one habit or adopt another, what will it be?