Facts About Breast Cancer 

About 1 in 8 U.S. women will develop invasive breast cancer over the course of their lifetime.1 That equates to about a 12.5% chance that this issue will personally affect your life and an even greater chance that you will know someone diagnosed with this terrible disease. 

Breast cancer is the most common cancer in women worldwide2 – but men aren’t immune to it. In fact, about 1 in every 1,000 men will develop breast cancer sometime over the course of their life.3  

One of the terrifying factors about this disease is that “about 85% of breast cancers occur in women who have no family history of breast cancer”4, which is why it’s super important to schedule preventative screenings to help catch the disease early on.  

Risk factors increase with age, which is why it’s recommended that women begin getting mammograms done annually starting at age 40.5 

If caught early enough, there is an 80-90% survival rate, which falls drastically to 24% when diagnosed at a more advanced stage.6  

Exercise and Breast Cancer 

Regular exercise has been linked to a 10-20% lowered breast cancer risk in postmenopausal women.7  

And the great thing about exercise is that about 2.5 hours per week can lower your overall cancer risk.8 It doesn’t even have to be intense exercise, in fact, something as seemingly simple as a 30-minute walk a day “may lower risk by about 3 percent.”9 

According to an article posted on BreastCancer.org, “more and more research is showing that exercise can reduce the risk of breast cancer coming back (recurrence) if you’ve been diagnosed.”10 So, not only does exercise help pre-diagnosis, but it can help post-diagnosis as well.  

Check out an interview we did with LA Fitness group fitness instructor Ilke E.W., two-time breast cancer survivor, who shared with us what her battle with breast cancer was like and what you should know about the disease here 

Exercise and Breast Cancer 

Regular exercise has been linked to a 10-20% lowered breast cancer risk in postmenopausal women.7  

And the great thing about exercise is that about 2.5 hours per week can lower your overall cancer risk.8 It doesn’t even have to be intense exercise, in fact, something as seemingly simple as a 30-minute walk a day “may lower risk by about 3 percent.”9 

According to an article posted on BreastCancer.org, “more and more research is showing that exercise can reduce the risk of breast cancer coming back (recurrence) if you’ve been diagnosed.”10 So, not only does exercise help pre-diagnosis, but it can help post-diagnosis as well.  

Check out an interview we did with LA Fitness group fitness instructor Ilke E.W., two-time breast cancer survivor, who shared with us what her battle with breast cancer was like and what you should know about the disease here 

Interview with Iryna D.* (Teaches Zumba®, Mat Pilates, and Yoga at LA Fitness)  

Q: How did fitness play a role in your life when going through treatment? Post-treatment?  

In order to cure my stage 2 Breast cancer, I had to go through 5 months of chemotherapy followed by double mastectomy and reconstruction surgeries. Before treatment, I was very physically active teaching 5-7 Zumba® and Yoga classes per week and swimming almost every day, but because of my low energy levels and other side effects of the chemo, I had to almost completely give up exercise during the treatment. I have two small children that I had to take care of, and I was saving my energy, so I could take my two-year-old son to the park every day and doing other chores (grocery shopping, etc.)My exercise got limited to taking short walks a few times a week and doing some yoga. I’ve regained my energy after my treatment was completed, and I started swimming again, taking long walks, doing Pilates, Yoga and weight training. That helped me to regain my strength and to get even more energy. The best part was coming back to teaching my beloved Zumba® classes and I can’t even explain how much joy I felt when I could teach my classes again. 

Q: What role does nutrition play when going through treatment? 

I had to follow a special diet after every chemotherapy session. My appetite was down, and I was eating less than I did before the treatment. Good thing was that I did not have to completely restrict myself to any of the foods. My main focus was to maintain a balanced diet full of healthy proteins, vegetable, and fruit. I tried to limit sugar and alcohol as much as possible. 

Q: Does breast cancer run in your family?  

Even though my breast cancer was caused by BRCA-2 gene mutation, it does not run in my family. 

Q: How did you handle the news? 

Getting diagnosed with stage 2 breast cancer at the age of 34 came to me as a complete shock. This does not run in my family and I never knew I had BRCA-2 gene mutation. I’ve always been healthy and physically active. It was very hard to face and to accept the diagnosis; I felt like my whole world turned upside down. The worst part was that for the first 2 weeks after the diagnosis, I was not even sure what stage my cancer was at and how far it had spread. The doctors knew it was at least stage 2 since the cancer had already spread to the lymph node under my right arm. I was praying for it to be just stage 2, and not 4. My son was 1 year old at that time and I was still breastfeeding him when this happened. Saying I was overwhelmed with the diagnosis would be an understatement. Meeting with my oncologist for the first time and learning that my cancer had not spread further than stage 2 helped to lift my spirits up and provided a big relief. I was able to put my negative emotions aside and felt fortunate to have discovered my cancer early enough. I was very optimistic when starting chemotherapy. 

Q: What advice would you give to those who are currently going through breast cancer treatment? Advice for the friends and family of someone struggling with the disease?  

My advice for anyone going through this – try to stay positive and optimistic – no matter what stage you are at and no matter what your diagnosis is. I know it is not easy to be optimistic and positive during this difficult time – but you should still try. Do not let yourself ever feel defeated by the disease. Believe in yourself – and the day will come when you will be healthy and happy again. If you ever feel like you are the only one going through this – go online and find a forum or a blog or seek assistance through your medical provider and join the group at the medical center. Talking to others who are or were going through the same thing helps tremendously. I was lucky that my friends had given me phone numbers of two other ladies who have gone through this and was successfully treated. If you even need to talk – my email is irynadjomins@gmail.com.  

Do not let yourself get depressed. Take a walk outside, meditate, talk to your friend or family members, try to do things you like as much as you can even if you don’t feel like it – do anything you can to bring positivity into your life. Make peace with the fact that your life might be different from what you’ve expected and continue doing things that you love. If you don’t feel well physically and can no longer enjoy exercise – find other things to do – like reading spiritual books or watching movies. Yoga and meditation helps a lot with improving mood and relieving anxiety. Don’t be afraid to talk to your friends, family and your doctor about your fears and concerns. It’s okay to be afraid and it is okay to talk about it.  

Try to focus on your life one day at the time and not to think about the future or the final outcome. Family and friends played such an important role in my life during the treatment – I am grateful that my husband, my two children and my family and friends were there for me during that difficult time. Their presence and support helped me so much to stay positive. If your friend or a family member is currently fighting the disease – do your best to be there for them as much as you can. You can help significantly just by listening, talking, sending a note, or simply by asking them how they feel and letting them know that you are thinking about them during this difficult time… You can also offer to help with chores and/or with taking care of children – so they have more time to rest or to do things they like. I know it is not easy to see your friend or family member going through this, and you can feel helpless at times – but you can still help just by being there for them and letting them know that they can always count on you.  

Sources:

  1. “U.S. Breast Cancer Statistics.” org, www.breastcancer.org/symptoms/understand_bc/statistics.
  2. “Breast Cancer Statistics.” World Cancer Research Fund International, wcrf.org/int/cancer-facts-figures/data-specific-cancers/breast-cancer-statistics.
  3. “U.S. Breast Cancer Statistics.” org, www.breastcancer.org/symptoms/understand_bc/statistics
  4. Ibid
  5. “Cancer Screening Guidelines | Detecting Cancer Early.” American Cancer Society, cancer.org/healthy/find-cancer-early/cancer-screening-guidelines/american-cancer-society-guidelines-for-the-early-detection-of-cancer.html.
  6. “Breast Cancer Statistics.” World Cancer Research Fund International, wcrf.org/int/cancer-facts-figures/data-specific-cancers/breast-cancer-statistics.
  7. “Exercise.” Susan G. Komen®, ww5.komen.org/Breastcancer/Lackofexercise.html.
  8. Ibid
  9. Ibid
  10. “Exercise.” org, www.breastcancer.org/tips/exercise.

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