Angelina Jolie, Breast Cancer, and Me

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In May of this year, Angelina Jolie shared her decision to have a double mastectomy to reduce her risk of cancer, noting an 87 percent risk of breast cancer and a 50 percent risk of ovarian cancer. According to Jolie, "Once I knew that this was my reality, I decided to be proactive and to minimize the risk as much I could."

As I read her story, I could not help but think of my own preventative breast cancer journey. I too am a prime candidate for breast cancer. My mother had breast cancer and both of my grandmothers were diagnosed with it. As I processed her decision, I was struck by how much we have in common:
  • Both of us are intent on surviving for the sake of our kids.
  • Both of us are linked with a man who supports our decisions. (My husband even looks like Brad Pitt—at least in my eyes!)
  • Both of us have made the decision to be proactive.
My preventative journey started in 1987, the year I turned 30. My doctor ordered a mammogram because of my risk factor. I obediently had a mammogram every year for the next 20 years.

I had one scare in those years, when I was in my late 40s. I contemplated anticipatory removal of one or both breasts. But my scare ended with good news, so I put the thought on the back burner.

The year I turned 50, my world collapsed. A botched mold remediation launched our family into multiple emergency rooms, operating rooms, and waiting rooms. I had little time to think about my annual mammogram. For the first time, I let it go.

In 2008 we abandoned our home, along with our possessions, and sought refuge in the desert. I awakened to new possibilities for breast cancer prevention.

I turned to natural living and serious detoxification. I began a healing regimen that I continue to this day.

I live with less fear than ever with regard to my high risk factor. Not because I have any guarantees. Much like Angelina Jolie, I'm confident I'm being proactive.

Here are six ways I'm fighting breast cancer—ahead of time.
  1. Limit my exposure to toxins, especially mold toxins. I am grateful now for my crash course in environmental health. I understand the significance of high indoor mold counts and the need for ventilation, and vigilance when it comes to water leaks and water intrusion. Species of aspergillus mold metabolize aflatoxins which are recognized by the World Health Organization as carcinogens. As much as possible, I avoid pesticides and synthetic fragrances.
  2. Remain meticulous about my diet. Sugar feeds pathogens in our bodies. I avoid sugar in all forms, including starches. I adhere to a grain-free, nutrient-dense diet with an emphasis on green juicing. I include fermented foods to help boost my immune system.
  3. Consistently practice colon cleansing. I consider this the most proactive of all my decisions. I base this on the Gerson Therapy, an alternative cancer treatment. Coffee enemas are used to stimulate the liver to detoxify and cleanse the body of pathogens. For more on coffee enemas, see A Candid Colon-Cleansing Conversation.
  4. Wear loose-fitting bras or no bra at all. It makes sense to me that tight-fitting clothing, especially a bra, can constrict the valuable lymph tissue from flushing toxins from the body. A controversial study linking bras with breast cancer is documented in the book Dressed to Kill by Sydney Ross Singer and Soma Grismaijer.
  5. Practice dry skin brushing daily. Skin brushing stimulates the lymphatic tissue to do its job of clearing toxins. It's one of the simplest yet most effective ways to detoxify and boost the immune system. As a bonus it softens your skin, and is especially beneficial for aging skin. For more details, including methods and sources, see The Benefits of Dry Skin Brushing.
  6. Use only personal care products that are safe enough to eat. Synthetic deodorants and antiperspirants containing aluminum have been linked to breast cancer. The underarm contains key lymph tissue. Why take a chance? I now use a homemade herbal deodorant when needed, rhassoul clay for shampoo, homemade tooth powder for toothpaste, and homemade soap for general cleansing. I have such a passion to help others enjoy the rewards of all-natural personal care, I have launched a line of chemical-free products, including deodorant, at Just So Natural Products.
There are many other natural preventative measures, as outlined in the recent article by natural health expert Dr. Joseph Mercola, Why Medicine Won't Allow Cancer to Be Cured.

Angelina and I have made different choices when it comes to our genetic predisposition. Neither of us wants to live in fear. Our hope is to live life to its fullest, embracing each day as it comes. A worthy goal—breast cancer or not.

(Photo courtesy of Dreamstime)