Disclosure: I created this post in partnership with Stonyfield. In this sponsored post, learn about #TheWholeYou, a new campaign from Stonyfield and PrAna that includes a discount code for prAna’s clothes. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Red Shutters.
When a recent New York Times article titled, You Can Take Steps to Lower Your Breast Cancer Risk, popped up in my Facebook feed, I clicked over immediately. As a breast cancer survivor, I know how critical it is to make decisions—each day—to be healthy. I learned this lesson more so after my cancer diagnosis and treatment, and consequently have made being healthy the centerpiece of my AC (after cancer) life.
There are many steps we can take to be healthy, and at the heart of all of them is a respect for ourselves, an appreciation for who we are, and the value we bring to the people in our lives.
This reflection was inspired by #TheWholeYou, a new campaign from Stonyfield, makers of the organic yogurt my children devour each morning before school, and prAna, developers of sustainable, beautiful clothing. As a Stonyfield Blogger, I was invited to participate in this campaign, which centers on the idea of being present in our lives and highlighting what fulfills and fuels us.
What fulfills me is the people I love, writing, traveling, and making positive changes in the world around me. In my now AC life, that means educating others, especiallyRed Shutters readers, about breast cancer prevention.
The Times article offers five, research-based strategies for keeping a breast cancer diagnosis at bay, and the silver lining to all of these is that these tips are good for overall health, not just cancer prevention. A summary of these strategies follows:
1) Don’t smoke > Research has proven that smoking comes with an increased breast cancer risk. Specifically, it has shown that “those who smoked 10 or more cigarettes a day for 20 or more years had a third higher risk of developing invasive breast cancer, and girls who started smoking before age 15 were nearly 50 percent more likely to get breast cancer.”
2) Limit your alcohol intake > “Women who consume two to five drinks a day are 40 percent more likely to get breast cancer than nondrinkers.”
3) Maintain a healthy body weight > According to Harvard University scientists, “Probably the single most important thing women can do to reduce their risk of breast cancer is to avoid weight gain in adult life.” This is probably the hardest of the breast cancer strategies offered in the article, because, as women age, our metabolisms slow down and weight gain can sneak up. This is bigger than not looking good in a favorite pair of jeans; it’s about how that extra weight affects your health and well-being. And, it goes hand-in-hand with strategy 4.
4) Exercise >“Regular exercise can help to prevent breast cancer and promote recovery from the disease” while also protecting “against many other chronic ills and can help women achieve and maintain a normal body weight.”
5) Eat healthy > Eat a diet that “emphasizes fiber-rich vegetables, fruits and whole grains, minimizes protein foods like red meat that are rich in saturated fats, and includes few if any sugar-sweetened foods and drinks.” I was, I thought, a healthy eater before I was diagnosed, always choosing organic, avoiding processed foods, and limiting my sugar intake. But I re-evaluated after I finished chemotherapy and radiation, and now eat more vegetables (thank you, green juice!) and more filling breakfasts (which help me to avoid a mid-morning carbohydrate run). My favorite, go-to breakfast is Stonyfield Whole Milk Greek Yogurt, just a half-cup, mixed with almonds, unsweetened coconut, and a dash of maple syrup. Sometimes, I add in-season berries or sliced banana. It’s so easy and delicious.
I’d add three more techniques that I learned during my breast cancer treatment to the ones laid out in the Times piece, including:
6) Get enough sleep > During my survivorship appointment—the medical appointment after treatment ends when a nurse practitioner reviews how to help prevent breast cancer reoccurrence—I was repeatedly told how critical it was to get enough sleep. Sleep is how our body heals, and it helps our brain function well. Without it, we can become prone to illness and make poor decisions. Getting good, quality sleep is a cornerstone of good health.
7) Manage your stress > How do you mange stress? Exercise? Meditate? Dance around the living room? I wasn’t always so good at this. I’m better now (but not perfect), and find that I have to work at it each day. One way I have been addressing my stress is to purge items—clothes, books, toys, and furniture—that my family doesn’t need. It’s funny to say that clutter causes stress, but, for me, it does. As I’ve gotten rid of things, I have also become selective about what comes into my house. For me, specifically, I have narrowed down where I purchase clothing, aiming to support retailers with missions in which I believe. One of those retailers is prAna, which I learned about through my work with Stonyfield. I have several prAna pieces in my wardrobe; they are high quality and last wash after wash. I was excited to add another item as part of #TheWholeYou campaign. I was gifted the Amelie dress in black, and it’s so comfortable and flattering. Made from performance knit and 45% recycled materials, the dress has a semi-flared A-line sweep and a V-neck, with seaming on the waist that adds a bit of flair. I wore it to dinner with friends, pairing it with leggings because it was still a bit chilly. In the summer, I can see wearing it on date night with heels and sparkly earrings, or with flip-flops to the beach. It’s one those dresses that can fit any occasion.
8) Be kind to yourself > Easy to say, right? But not always easy to do. Before cancer, I was really successful at saying no—to myself. I gave myself a hard time over small things, talked myself out of that new handbag that I wanted, and never made enough time for friends. In my AC life, I am working on all that: letting things go, buying myself a new handbag if that’s what I want, and making more time to connect with the people in my life. I’m saying yes to myself. Making what I need a priority sustains me and makes me a better parent, wife, and human being.
Are these eight healthy strategies part of your life? I hope they are. Because, according to the Times piece, “One woman in eight in the United States will develop it in the course of a lifetime. The American Cancer Society estimates that this year 252,710 new cases of invasive breast cancer will be diagnosed, and 40,610 women will die from the disease.”
One in eight. How many women do you know? More than eight, I’m sure. Which makes breast cancer awareness an issue for everyone.
Friends, prAna is offering Red Shutters readers 15% off of its beautiful clothes. Visit prAna online and enter the code WHOLES17KRS at checkout. This promotion ends May 31, 2017.