Thursday, October 17, 2013

Breast Cancer and Why I Have Decided that a Plant Based (Vegan) Diet is Best for Me

In the last few months I have made some pretty major changes in the way I eat.  I have also made adjustments in what my family eats and have gained the support from my husband to go meat free, once again.  

This has been a battle for many years.  He has always believed in high protein diets and was never comfortable with me losing meat as a leading source.  It was a health concern in his mind.  But there has been a push in cancer research in the years since we met that supports my decision to reduce/eliminate animal products from my diet.  I was already making a slow transition when something happened.

I found a lump.

It was small; the size of a black bean.  It was tender to the touch.  I got second and third opinions.  I wasn’t imagining it.  

I saw my OB/GYN a couple of days later for an exam and was surprised by what she had to say.

“That?  That is normal tissue.  But this, over here?  This is concerning.”  She was referring to a large ridge that was about 4 finger lengths across.  I had noticed it after having the baby but I assumed it had to do with changes due to pregnancy and/or milk coming in.  

I was shocked that the doctor had any concern at all.  I guess I assumed, like always, that they would say everything was normal and send me on my way.  

The doctor did say that it was very likely what I had originally thought - natural changes.  But it was suspicious enough that it needed to be checked out.  

I waited days for the appointment to have the ultrasound and the anxiety increased with each day, hour, minute.  I researched the likelihood, my diet, causes, treatments, etc…  I was only making it worse for myself, but it gave me a false sense of control.

The day of the ultrasound I was a mess.  I was fortunate that the wait time was minimal and I was so thankful when they said they would read the test right there and deliver the results immediately.  They would even perform further testing that day if anything was questionable.  I should mention that I have a family history.

I thought I was going to vomit and pass out waiting.  The thought of leaving my babies, my husband and my family were beyond anything I could bare.  

When the radiologist came in herself I almost lost it.

But, she was only delivering quality care and wonderful bedside manner.  The news was good!

The mass that my doctor found as well as the one that I was originally concerned about were formed of normal tissue, not even cysts!  I was told to watch for changes in size, shape and additional lumps and I was asked if I would like to be contacted by a genetic counselor.  Of course and YES.

I am lucky.  I am grateful.

Not only do I have a family history of breast cancer, but numerous others.  It is also something that has been dealt with on my husbands side.  I want to know if I have  a predisposition to anything.  What can I be actively doing to prevent what almost feels inevitable?

I am working on increasing my physical activity and my diet has changed radically.  I am leading by example so that my children can see what I am doing and will hopefully make better choices for themselves.

I am not eating meat and I am eliminating eggs and dairy from my diet.  My husband has decreased his meat intake significantly and my children already ate pretty well.  I will not tell them they can’t have chicken nuggets.  We buy the hormone and preservative free variety - organic if available.  We are moving towards a plant based diet based on research done on how diet affects the development and spread of cancers.

I will be writing more on my journey and, of course, sharing recipes that I am excited about in my weekly meal plans.  I am not perfect and I cannot tell you I won’t slip up.  I am craving chicken nuggets after writing about them… I just want to do the right thing.

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