Tuesday, July 31, 2012

The Dangers of Alcohol and ER Positive Breast Cancer

Enjoying my glass of wine - June 2012
I was reading Debbie's blog the other day and one post really caught my attention. She wrote about her recent "A Ha Moment" regarding her diet and how she had let it slip into her "pre-cancer casualness." I could definitely relate.

When I was first diagnosed, I went out and bought a Breville Juicer just like Kris Carr and read her books "Crazy Sexy Diet" and "Crazy Sexy Cancer Survivor." I learned how important it is to create an alkaline environment in your body. Cancer doesn't like alkalinity. Cancer LOVES acidic environments. And what contributes to acidity? Well, all the good stuff I love to eat and drink - of course! The list includes animal products (especially red meat), sugary foods (including white starches), caffeine and alcohol.

But alcohol is the topic that really caught my attention in Debbie's post. She enjoys her wine -- just like me. And what's the problem with a little red wine in the evening? It's good for your heart, right?

Well, if you have (or had) ER+ breast cancer like me (and like Debbie), alcohol increases the risk of recurrence by 90%! And if you have not had breast cancer, it increases your chances of one day developing breast cancer by 40%.

Those are some big numbers.

I was never what I would call a "heavy" or "regular" drinker in my 20's and 30's. I used to drink beer and only on the weekends. I never had issues with breast health. My mammograms were clear. I never had any lumps or cysts.

That all changed in my 40's. Somewhere along my journey through life, I started drinking wine and enjoying it very much. I would routinely have one or two glasses at least four nights a week. Suddenly my mammograms would come back abnormal. I developed cysts including one large fibroadenoma when I was 42. And then I developed breast cancer.

No one can say for sure what caused my breast cancer. But I am sure about one thing -- I need to give up wine if I want the best chance possible for avoiding a recurrence.

Want more information about the dangers of ER+ breast cancer and alcohol? Read Recipe for Disaster: Alcohol and Estrogen-Positive Breast Cancer by Dr. Kathleen Ruddy, a breast cancer surgeon and leading advocate for eradicating breast cancer.

Comments on Comments:

Mandi - Lately I have been focusing on "getting my life back" and that includes eating and drinking the same way I did before my cancer diagnosis. I agree with you - life is short and we should definitely enjoy it. But I just won't enjoy my wine the way I used to before breast cancer and before reading Dr. Ruddy's article. A 90% chance of recurrence? No glass of wine is worth it (JMHO).

Catherine - I was planning to blog about this very eye-opening article when I read it on Debbie's blog a few days ago. You bring up a really good point about how many women did not follow through with taking their hormone therapy (tamoxifen or aromatase inhibitor) for five years. After all we have been through, what's one little pill once a day? I am not having any major side effects from tamoxifen so it makes it a lot easier for me to take it every day. I suppose if I was having bone and joint pain, I might not feel the same way.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Denial - It's Not a River in Egypt

For the past month or so, I have been living in denial. Big time. I didn't realize this until I missed an oncology appointment on July 18. I basically just blew it off. I had something going on at work and completely "forgot" about my doctor appointment. If that isn't denial, I don't know what is.

And here's another clue that I am in denial. I am still eating meat and drinking wine just like I was before my diagnosis. In my head I know that I need to cut out the acidic animal products and alcohol. I know that I need to eat more veggies and drink green juices. I even have a $200 Breville Juicer collecting dust on a shelf in my kitchen.

After all that I have been through, why am I behaving this way?

According to Wikipedia, denial is a defense mechanism "in which a person is faced with a fact that is too uncomfortable to accept and rejects it instead, insisting that it is not true despite what may be overwhelming evidence."

There are three types of denial: simple denial, minimization and projection. I definitely fall into the category of minimization which is admitting a fact ("Yes, I had breast cancer.") but denying its seriousness ("It was caught early. I had chemo. I feel fine. I will be fine...").

The truth is, I had breast cancer. And if I want to avoid a recurrence or another breast cancer, I need to pull my head out of the sand and get serious.

In my mind, "getting serious" means:
  • Eliminating alcohol.
  • Going vegan.
  • Exercising at least 3 hours per week.
  • Meditating every day.
  • Taking yoga classes.
  • Drinking green juices every day.
And that's just for starters.

Comments on Comments:

Catherine - Thank you for being the first to follow my new blog! I hope you are recovering from your recent reconstruction surgery. Yes, a long road ahead for sure but I think the worst is behind us.

Mandi - Hi there! Thanks for following me over here. We are not at 29 years yet - just celebrated our 23rd wedding anniversary. As I was writing my anniversary card to my husband, I told him that now I understand what "in sickness and in health" really means.

Evelyne - Girl! How are you? I hope you are doing well and enjoying life. Thanks for stopping by to leave me a comment. How do you like my "Comments on Comments" section? Does it look familiar? haha!

Liz - Thank you for finding my blog. I just popped over to read yours and yes, we do have some similarities in our breast cancer experiences. You look wonderful with short hair! I hope you are feeling well and taking your tamoxifen every day. I will continue reading your blog to get caught up.