Friday, January 22, 2010

Stress and Risk Factors for Breast Cancer

Stress and Risk Factors for Breast Cancer
Stress Impacts Immune System, Affects Sleep, Causes Health Problems
By Pam Stephan, About.com Guide

Stress happens when push comes to shove. If you experience some force, pressure or demand on your body, mind, or emotions that causes tension or distress, you will respond or react in some way. For some, stress is a powerful motivator, and for others it may cause emotional, mental, and even physical symptoms. Let's take a look at stress and see whether it may be a risk factor for breast cancer.

Common Stressors to Watch Out For
Life is full of opportunities for stress. Since stressors are so varied, you might like to keep in mind this short list of common life events that trigger stress responses:

Loss of a close relative, friend, or pet
Loss of a spouse to death or divorce
Divorce of one's parents
Job loss
Workplace conflicts
Economic crisis
Severe illness – your own or that of a close relative
Family and personal relationships

Emotional Distress and Vulnerability to Breast Cancer
"You can't tell me I didn't have breakup cancer," said Katherine Russell Rich in her book The Red Devil. She found a breast lump right after her divorce and was diagnosed with Stage 4 breast cancer. Elizabeth Edwards was helping her husband campaign for Vice President when she found her breast lump. You may know somebody with a similar story – after a period of chronic stress or significant loss, they found a lump and were diagnosed with cancer.

It may seem natural to associate negative emotions with breast cancer, but researchers are not sure if, or why, your body may be more vulnerable to cancer due to stress. And, not everybody who has stress gets sick – some people can de-stress or fight back, without risking their health.
Stress And Your Immune System
In 2008, a group of Israeli scientists studied a group of women under 45 years old. They found that young women who had endured two or more traumatic life events had a higher than average rate of depression and greater vulnerability to breast cancer. The younger a woman was when a crisis hit, the greater their risk for cancer.

It is thought that stress may affect your nervous, endocrine and immune systems. Chronic stress may weaken your immune system, leaving you with less resistance to disease. In the Israeli study, women who responded to stress with optimism and a fighting spirit seemed to have a protective emotional armor that raised their defenses against breast cancer.
Stress Is Just One Piece of the Cancer Puzzle
Dr. Margaret Lewin of Cinergy Health says that when it comes to direct cause and effect in humans, the true relationship between stress and cancer remains elusive. There have been many studies done on stress and cancer, but getting conclusive results from such a mixed bag of factors is difficult, to say the least.

"For example, highly-stressed people may drink, eat and smoke more – thus indirectly raising the risk of various types of cancer," notes Dr. Lewin. Stress may trigger lifestyle responses that affect your health. Those responses are hard to boil down into data that can be examined in a scientific study.
Stress and Life – Find Your Balance
There's an old joke that the only people who have no stress are those who live in graveyards. But stress is a normal part of life to which we all respond differently, depending on our personalities, backgrounds, and situations. While stress can provide great motivation for some people, it can cause health problems such as headaches, diabetes, heart disease, obesity, dental problems, and ulcers.

Scientists aren't completely convinced that stress causes cancer, but it doesn't always make you feel better. Learn ways to reduce your stress, improve your overall health, and enjoy your life as fully as you can.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Clean Slate

A week after my surgery--the doctor unwrapped the bandages today and ta da! I've got myself a whole new set of boobs! They're quite high, thanks in part to the lift the surgeon gave me last year. I don't even have to wear a bra! The nipples are large but she told me they would shrink by as much as 90 percent when all is said and done. Now it's just a waiting game as the swelling goes down.

Dr. Ott said, go ahead, look in the mirror. I did and my first thought was, accept for the scars, no one would know the difference between what I had before and what I have now. One thing for sure, they are perkier.

So the moral of the story is when you finally reach the end of the road of the long breast cancer journey you have something to feel good about-- for me it's Playboy bunny boobs!

I joined Fitness Edge to start the long arduous road of getting back in shape. Before I was diagnosed with cancer I was much more fit, much stronger. It's very depressing to be huffing and puffing on the elyptical machine after just 10 minutes. My arms used to be so toned and fit. My triceps just wasted away. I think it has something to do with the surgery when they went into my back and moved the tissue to my left breast. The radiation on the left side, which hit my left arm probably didn't help either. I don't have any hair under that arm, that's how strong the radiation was.

But no matter. Little by little I'll get my strength back. I'm not bogged down by treatments or the major setbacks I had last year due to the reconstructive surgeries. No more excuses!

My birthday is next week. Taking better care of myself is my gift to me.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

This Is It

Tomorrow I go for my final reconstructive surgery. I will be getting breast implants to bring me from a B cup to a full C. Thank God this is it. I can't wait to finally be done with all of this. As a reward to myself, I am booking a short trip down to West Palm Beach to see my friend Maggie January 28 to February 1st. It will be so good to get away--I really need the change of scenery.

After all is said and done, this has been almost a two-year journey. I was officially diagnosed with breast cancer March 12 2008. My hair finally has some sense of style. I've gotten my physical strength back and I joined a gym to get my body back in shape. It's a clean slate and I choose to be positive about all the future will bring me. I'm alive, I'm' healthy, that's a spring board to take my life to the next level.