Breast Cancer prevention, Part 1 of 4

‘An ounce of prevention, is worth a pound of cure’

Some of you may have heard this old adage, and some may have not; but regardless it stands true for any aspect of life. Being proactive is always better than being reactive. It’ll make for a more stress free life, and who really wants stress anyway?

I have to admit that I didn’t go very far in researching this, but you can all blame CanadianLiving.com for that. They have an article that provided me with all the information I needed on preventing breast cancer.

1. Their first piece of advice is to stay active. Something that I’m not doing too well with right now. I started working out a couple of weeks ago but soon lost interest since our ancient equipment at home kept giving me a sore bum. But luckily for me, you don’t have to be an athlete to prevent breast cancer.

The article says that even moderate activities like carrying the laundry, walking briskly while grocery shopping, carrying groceries, etc., can be helpful in staying active. Anything that gets your heart rate up a little and makes you sweat a tad bit. Here is what I learnt from this pointer: fat cells produce estrogen, and estrogen is what is responsible for most breast cancers. Shocking1.

2. Their second tip goes hand in hand with the first one, and that’s maintaining a healthy weight. Crap. I checked it out recently, and I’m overweight for my frame, age and height by 15lbs2. I don’t have weight issues, I always eat as much as I’m hungry for and that will never change. I’m not going to starve myself just to get into clothes… but I obviously need to start obeying tip#1 to get tip#2 under control.

There’s something about this pointer that really scared me, CanadianLiving.com has said that women who gain over 20lbs of weight are more prone to postmenopausal breast cancer. I know, I know I don’t have to worry about that for a long time but that’s the whole idea of prevention – you worry about it now so you don’t have to worry about it later! I gotta get my butt in gear!

Now, since I don’t like writing super long posts like a Monkey we all know and love, I’m going to end this with these questions:

Did you learn something today? How active are you?

  1. no really, I’m not being sarcastic! []
  2. 14.6, but who are we kidding, it’s basically 15 []

Learning about cancer

The first thing I wanted to understand was what part of the breast was suseptible to cancer. I checked out a few different websites, one being The Canadian National Cancer Institute‘s website ((go figure)) and so far I understand that the breast is made up of different sections1 which contain smaller sections2. Each of these smaller sections3 contain organs that produce the milk that babies love. Mostly, the breast is made up of fat, and these ograns they’ve4 decided to call lobes and lobules. I didn’t mention nipples because, well… we all know they’re there. They’re the ‘duh’ part.

But the important part of the breast to keep an eye on when checking for cancer, is the lymph vessels. Apparently these lead to lymph nodes5 which carry bacteria, cancer cells and other harmful substances. These lymph nodes exist all over our body.

Now, I think even I remember learning in high school biology that our cells are constantly renewing in our body6. Tumors are formed when the system of cell renewal goes astray, as in when the new cells form before the old cells have had a chance to die and the old cells don’t die like they should. But as I’ve learnt from the TV dramas, not all tumours are cancerous. Some tumours can just be extra tissue… some… aren’t so happy7.

What was easy to understand was that unless caught and treated early, breast cancer can spread almost any other part of the body and that the most common parts they spread to are the bones, liver, lungs, and brain.

So how does it spread? What I first needed to understand was that the lympathic system is something similar to the nervous system or our veins and arteries but instead of carrying nervous cells, or blood it carries a fluid called lymph through our system. This yellowish, watery fluid containing white blood cells8, red blood cells and protein is important to our immune system health. Wisegeek compared lymph to a milkman who replenishes us with nutrients9 and takes away the empty bottles. Of course, this is one milkman who won’t sleep with your wife10.

Cancer can also spread through our blood stream; the not so happy11 tumours previously mentioned can break off of where they had originally grown and travel through the bloodstream12 until they find a suitable new home13.

Cancer can also ‘invade’ the healthy tissue surrounding it. This type of Cancer is usually ‘easier’ to get rid of if caught early enough and if all infected tissue is removed accurately. But, its said that it’s not a guarantee that the same type of cancer won’t form again in another part of the body and it would be completely unrelated to the first one.

Lastly14, there is apparently the rare instance that cancer can form as a result of something happening during a biopsy. A biopsy is the surgery performed to get rid of a malignant tumour… and sometimes, the needle being used to remove the tumour can drip onto other healthy organs and infect said organ15.

So! That’s what cancer is… and that’s how it spreads through our body. I hope you learnt something today, because I certainly did.

Have you gone pink for October?

  1. the article called them lobes []
  2. they called these lobules []
  3. so the lobules []
  4. the scientist geeks []
  5. that strangely look like a lima bean []
  6. that’s why we shed skin, and etc. If you didn’t know that, I’m sorry to be the one to tell you but we shed too… just like our cats and dogs []
  7. these are called malignant tumours []
  8. called lymphocytes — I know boring Jargon right? []
  9. like those found in milk []
  10. woh woh woh []
  11. malignant []
  12. mostly through the veins as opposed to the arteries []
  13. damn bastards []
  14. but not least-ly… []
  15. WHAT?!! []

No catchy titles here, new year’s resolutions are tough to keep.

I’m a bit late on my update but I never said it was going to be a monthly thing either so 😛 And since my mind is a bit all over the place at the moment, I’m going to get right down to business.

The pounds
My first resolution for 2008 was to lose weight. I am happy to report that I haven’t gotten any further on my quest for some sort of exercise or diet routine since my last post. I blame it on the lack of routine in my work schedule (can you say ‘excuses’?). I did manage to take Chris’s advice and am drinking more water and I’m also trying my best to drink more milk. Lastly, I’m (honestly) happy to tell you all that while I have only shed (all of) 1lb since declaring my resolutions, I did manage to lose about 2″ all around which means it feels better to be in my old clothes and I no longer need to go shopping!

Being able to fit into my favourite clothes was the main reason I wanted to lose weight, and I’m glad that I can lose the inches without necessarily going too heavy on not so fun stuff like the dieting and the exercising. If you’ve ever met me, you’d tell me that I don’t need to lose weight. I know this because I hear it all the time, but honestly the belly over the top pants just does not look good – no matter how thin not fat you are! And all it takes is to wear clothes that fit right, you don’t have to be a size zero.

The dough
My second resolution was to save money, although in my first update I only wrote about my resolution to save money for my RSP by February 28. My complete resolution was to save money; Saving money for my RSP was only one part, one that had to be completed before February 28 or it wouldn’t count towards my 2007 tax returns. But I’m continuing my savings till the end of the year or until I become unemployed. I’m on a good track for reaching my goal for my RSP savings which is great because I also have my RSP GIC maturing next year and I can combine the two and earn even greater interest!

I have also succeeded in saving up the flight money for my upcoming trip to Dublin so that my flight is paid for in cash. I also have saved about 40% of the cash I’ll need to spend while I’m there. For those of you wondering, I’m slightly over the mistake I’ve made but I don’t think I’ll be fully over it until I can make it up to him. Thanks so much to everyone for all your support and reassurance that I wasn’t a dumbass. It was much appreciated!

There is a second part to this resolution and it has a little bit to do with a post I wrote recently about my application for a loan. First, I have to tell you that my application got declined. I’m very saddened by this because it means it’s going to take some discipline to pay off my debt, but I’m just going to have to bite the bullet. I have other options available to me like getting someone to co-sign the loan but I want to look after this problem, that I alone created, on my own.

Second, I wanted to talk a little bit about what I know about loans – at least here in Canada. Ate Maeyo, and Jillian were real sweethearts and were very concerned about what I may have been getting myself into so I talked it over with my Mum (the financially adept one in the family) and she explained a few things to me:

She said that most banks in Canada offer loans that are actually targeted to help people get out of debt, the only problem is they are hard to obtain. They don’t like to lend this money to people that they consider ‘risky’. To answer a few questions that Ate Maeyo brought up, the interest rate is about 8% lower than my credit cards and there is no penalty for paying off more than the monthly repayments or for repaying the loan earlier than the term of the loan. I kind of knew these things when I applied for the loan but I had looked at so many descriptions I couldn’t remember for sure so I didn’t want to say anything until I was sure.

I was actually hoping to do a more detailed post on the subject, but seeing as I didn’t get the loan I hope you understand why I don’t feel like it. I’m still assessing my options but for now I’m going to leave it alone and really try to command some self-discipline.

Wish me luck! How are you doing with your new year’s resolutions?