Feb 16, 2014 - 1:30 pm
PJS2005 asked about whether we survivors have instituted any lifestyle changes since diagnosis, so I decided to start a separate thread to hear what others have done and tell you what I've done.
I have indeed changed quite a few things, not only because of my breast cancer diagnosis, but it certainly played a significant part. I'm doing this primarily for general overall health issues. I'm 66 years old and I want to dance at my granddaughter's wedding. She's 7.
After treatment, I really thought I'd instituted some positive changes. I was exercising pretty regularly (I'd skip some weeks, some weeks I'd only go 2 days, etc.) and primarily eating healthy (but too often not). My mindset was I wasn't about to give up everything and after,all I WAS doing something! The biggest change I made was about alcohol. I seldom (I won't say never) drink anymore. Anyway, most of my weight came back (you know, the weight I said I'd never gain again!) because I wasn't being consistent about anything. Heart disease runs rampant in my family, I have hypertension and high cholesterol, and my weight is primarily in my belly. Not a good thing for heart disease nor for estrogen related cancers (both my breast and endometrial cancers were estrogen positive). I started to pay attention to how my smaller friends ate vs. my fluffy friends. My smaller friends simply don't eat as much as I was and they consistently eat healthy. I also considered myself active, but I really wasn't.
So, Nov. 1 I had an epiphany and decided to really change and not just pretend change. My ephiphany was that my body provided the right environment for 2 primarily cancers to grow and while they may now be gone forever (that is what I believe), it really doesn't mean that this same environment can't grow another one! I'd read "The Anti Cancer Diet" during treatment and knew about "managing my terrain", but I wasn't managing mine. And then there was the heart disease thing . . . So, for the past 15 weeks I've exercised 5 days a week (missed only maybe 3-4 days total) and am keeping calories under 1500 per day, and not eating white stuff (bread, sugars, etc.). I don't think I've ever worked this hard and consistently for this long in my entire life. I discovered I was in really horrible condition. I've lost 18 lbs. which averages 1.2 lbs. per week. I'm on Tamoxifen, and am postmenopausal and probably more sedentary than I wanted to admit. It will come off, but it is really hard. The biggest deal for me is that I feel so good. For years, I could not get off the floor if I was sitting on it without crawling over to a piece of furniture and helping myself. Now I can sit in the middle of the floor and get up without even using my arms. That is improvement in strength that I can see and feel. I typically get the winter blues. This year I didn't have them. Maybe that was due to our California drought and spring-like weather, but it doesn't matter, I got through the winter without being a blob.
I don't know if my cancers will come back, or if I'll grow another one, or if I'll have a heart attack or stroke. We don't know these things and at 66 things start to happen and we can't turn the clock back. I know that I feel really good and a whole lot of folks my age (i.e., my husband) can't say that. I accept that with age, health issues will pop up, but I don't have to encourage them!
Anxious to hear what others have done. I could not have done this if I were in active treatment, but I did walk as much as I could while in treatment.