Surviving & Thriving 2016

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“The 5 Things I Learned From Breast Cancer”
Janice McKenzie-Crayton

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#IAmKomenATL – Women of color have the worst breast cancer outcomes in Atlanta. That’s why I am part of Komen Atlanta’s Sisters of Promise, which is a group of prominent African American women in Atlanta that serve as ambassadors to help educate and expose our community to good information. We work to aggressively and proactively ensure that we get the right information and resources to everyone. As a 3-time breast cancer survivor, my promise is to educate, to inform, and to be an inspiration to others.

Here are the top 5 things I learned during my journey with breast cancer:

  1. In the words of songstress India Ire, I am not my hair, and most certainly I am not my boobs!
  2. Always put your prostheses in the same place at night. It is a terrible thing to be ready to start your day and you cannot find your STUFF!
  3. A sense of humor really is medicine for the spirit and nourishment for the soul!
  4. One must launch your own individual battle against breast cancer. I learned I had to do ME! I had to find my own statement of strength and victory. To signal my victory, with my surgeon’s approval and absolute delight, I completed a mastectomy tattoo across my chest, a flower garden that reminds me of how victorious I have been and how beautiful I am in spite of or even because of breast cancer.
  5. And, early detection leads to long life!

CM3_1642Thanks to the doctors and speakers from Cancer Treatment Centers of America, we all learned so much at Surviving & Thriving this year! Below is a recap of all the awesome ways that you can survive & thrive in 2016.

1. Be Mindful

Relieving stress can help your body heal. Tips for practicing mindfulness are:

  • Practice deep breathing exercises 5 times a day for 3 to 5 minutes
  • Create a visual image in your mind or look at a piece of artwork and focus your thinking on the things you see for 1 minute to help your body relax
  • Adult coloring books are very popular. Sit down in silence for a few minutes a day and color. You can find these on Amazon. com or at your local craft store
  • Journaling can help get out extra stress. Choose a topic that is not heavy and write about it for 5 minutes. (e.g., your favorite food, your favorite color) You will be surprised how relaxed you are when this is complete. Click here to learn more.

2. Be Positive

Setting aside time for yourself daily can help boost your mood, increase your energy, and allow your body to overcome stress. Remember be selfish with your time, and put you first. It is time to write the next chapter of your life, and we want you to be the center focus in that chapter. Break out of your shell and live for yourself.

Tips for starting your next chapter:

  • Find the positive in situations and share that positivity with others
  • Say “No” when you are asked to do something by others
  • Protect your time
  • Prioritize based on what makes you happy
  • Create goals for yourself that are achievable and reward yourself when you achieve them

3. Eat Healthy

Food is medicine for your body. Eat foods that are rich in vitamins like the ones below:

  • Antioxidants:
    • Vitamin E
      • Wheat germ, Sunflower seeds, Almonds, Hazelnuts
    • Vitamin C
      • Berries, Citrus fruits, Broccoli, Cauliflower, Peppers
    • Vitamin A
      • Sweet potatoes, Carrots, Pumpkin, Spinach
    • Phytochemicals:
      • Fruits, vegetables, grains, rice, beans/legumes
      • Seasonings
      • Tea
    • Probiotics
      • Yogurt, kefir, fermented soy products, acidophilus, milk, sauerkraut, kimchi, pickled beets
    • Prebiotics
      • Leeks, barley, Jerusalem artichokes, chicory, bananas
    • Omega 3 Fatty Acids
      • Salmon, canola oil, flaxseed, walnuts, olive oil
    • Fiber
      • Whole grains, fresh fruits & vegetables, beans & legumes, nuts, brown rice, quinoa, oats
    • Low Salt
      • Season foods with alternatives such as garlic, onion, pepper, rosemary, ginger, sage, basil, oregano, lemon, thyme, and many others.

Eating healthy and affordably can be easier if you shop for fruits and vegetables that are in season. Click here to learn what’s in season!

Most people are not sure if they should eat organic or inorganic foods and which ones are safe to consume that are inorganic. The dirty dozen and clean fifteen list is easy to download on any device.

4. Get Movin’

You should reserve time every day to take care of your body. Taking care of the body will help take care of the mind. Many times the post exercise cognitive state helps to reduce stress, improve mental clarity, and leaves a general sense of well-being.

Research shows that exercise helps many aspects of daily life. A gentle, low impact or no impact, aerobic regular routine can help your overall health. Results to improve health can occur with small doses of regular, low impact aerobic activity.

Set your goal for 150 minutes per week. Tips for achieving this goal:

  • 21 minutes per day if you exercise 7 days per week
  • 30 minutes per day if you choose 5 days per week
  • 50 minutes per day if you go for 3 days per week

Get an accountability partner, stay hydrated by drinking half your body weight in ounces of water daily, and Move, Move, Move! Click here to sign up for the Komen Atlanta Race for the Cure.

5. Let’s SURVIVE and THRIVE!

A survivorship care plan is the summary of treatment you received that includes:

  • Medical providers and their contact information
  • Diagnosis and appropriate staging
    • Chemotherapy, surgery, and radiation dates
  • Possible side effects of your treatment
  • Reason treatment was stopped
  • Diagnostic information
  • Recommended screenings
  • Surveillance plan

Know your right to a survivorship care plan. You can request your survivorship care plan from your oncologist to help you move forward and understand where you have been on your cancer journey. Share this plan with your primary care physician to help you survive and thrive.

We challenge you to survive and thrive by practicing mindfulness, setting time aside for you, eating well, keeping your body in motion, and requesting a survivorship care plan. CTCA looks forward to seeing all of you Survivors and Thrivers at the Race for the Cure in May!