My Breast Cancer: Why I Won’t Race for the Cure

Last weekend, on the eve of Breast Cancer Awareness month and, coincidentally, the five year anniversary of my being diagnosed with bilateral (both sides) breast cancer, I put on my running shoes and got myself down to a 10k race here in Georgia where I now live.  It was not a race for the “cure,” nor any race with breast cancer attached to its name.  It was just a race for fun.  But for me, a young survivor, it had everything to do with breast cancer and more.

Danielle, wearing BfB’s Miracle Isn’t the Bra tank after the race.  This shirt and others are available for a donation to the Mother of All Causes :) click here to order!

You see, I love to run.  In fact, I have been running since I was 19.  I ran the NYC Marathon at 22.  I ran to rejuvenate my body after having babies.  I ran through chemotherapy. I ran soon after my double breast reconstruction.  Running is my Sunday morning church and the one constant in my lifelong struggle to feel well.  In between an endless parade of visits to doctors and specialists in the quest to pinpoint a lifelong battle with why I simply feel lousy more days than not, I run.

But I will not run, race, or even walk for the “Cure.”

Please don’t misunderstand.  I am grateful for the enormous advances in breast cancer treatment that freed me from a dire fate, and grateful to the millions of women and family members who perished, suffered or lost loved ones to this horrid disease, and have fought for increased funding for research and treatment.   But in an era when premenopausal breast cancer, including pregnancy onset breast cancer, as well as many other serious diseases, are on the rise, it is simply unacceptable to me to push the “the cure”  without at least an equal emphasis on PREVENTION. It is unacceptable to me to not do more to stem this growing epidemic and to prevent more victims from being claimed in the first place.

Having lived through this ordeal at age 37 with a 2 and 5 year old at home, I am not afraid to take this position: the Cure is not enough; we need both treatment AND prevention.  And that means awareness and action beyond the monthly self-exam for breast cancer, regular visits to the doctor, and yearly mammograms (which are more properly classed as detection than prevention).  It means an unrelenting focus on ensuring and educating about real food (whole, unprocessed, organic, fresh and local at best), clean air, clean water, toxin-free products for home and body, and exercise among other things, and it includes emphasizing the miracle milk that jump starts it all!  The evidence is clear that breast tissue is less susceptible to aberrations if you exclusively breastfeed:  Breastfeeding is associated with a lower risk (a whopping 59%!!) of breast cancer in women who have a family history of the disease and at least a 28% reduction for those without one (me). And it lowers your breastfed baby girl’s lifetime risk getting breast cancer by 25% !   Sadly, millions of people have never even heard of this. Public service campaigns are often outmarketed by industries that are driven by the need to increase profits for shareholders, not by an interest in advancing health. Even more sad that we live at a time when more moms than ever want to breastfeed (86%)– many motivated by wanting to protect themselves and their children from the myriad diseases and conditions linked with non-breastfeeding — but are being prevented from succeeding by the Booby Traps.

Full page ad appeared in USA Today on June 25, 2010

We started BFB because we recognized the need for a mainstream Cause that is concerned with helping people to THRIVE, not just SURVIVE once a sister is already down!  We saw the need for a complement to the Cure in a Cause focused on investing in and promoting healthy living  and healthy decisions as PREVENTATIVE.   And since the bedrock foundation of human health, the “Prevention Under Our Noses” is mom’s Miracle Milk(TM), we founded the Mother of All Causes!

So I did my first race to Beat the Booby Traps last weekend, under the banner of Best for Babes and breastfeeding, and took my first public step toward putting prevention first!   I was wearing our tshirt replica of “The Miracle Isn’t the Bra” public service advertisement  that appeared in USA Today this June . . .the message being that “the miracle is YOU, BABE and the miracle milk only moms can make, whether it’s for their own or another’s baby”  It’s also the experience you just can’t bottle.  It felt wonderful to be broadcasting that empowering message about the super- power of moms.

Click to order!

The race was my coming out, my break with the past and the silence that has kept me from sharing my story with a larger audience.  It has simply been too overwhelming and too painful to write.   I have had lots of time in the last 5 years to ponder “Why? Why me?  How did this happen to me?”  But as I strode proudly down that street , the blue sky and sun beaming down on me, I was no survivor.  I was a THRIVER, paving the way for others to aim higher, expect more, don’t settle for less.

I am challenging all moms who wanted to breastfeed and were prevented from achieving their personal breastfeeding goals to join us in our race to Beat the Booby Traps.   If you are a breast cancer survivor or have been affected by this terrible disease, I hope you will stand next to me shoulder to shoulder to demand focus on PREVENTION, and to protect the right of all parents to make informed decisions and achieve their personal breastfeeding goals, whether that is for 2 weeks, 2 months, 2 years.  I hope you will stand next to me shoulder to shoulder to demand access to  the next best substitute:  screened, donated, pasteurized human milk from an HMBANA registered milk bank for parents who can not or do not want to breastfeed.   Or maybe even join with us on Team Best for Babes — Racing to Beat the Breastfeeding Booby Traps(R) and Put Prevention First! –as we do the unthinkable and break barriers and ribbons across the nation in the name of informed decision making, breastfeeding, thriving, and prevention!

It’s time we got the focus off of “surviving” and onto THRIVING.  And it starts with the Miracle of Mom’s Milk.  Together we can save lives!

Here’s how you can help:

Make a donation to support the Mother of All Causes – $5, $10, $20 any amount helps our tiny nonprofit to take this cause to the next level;

Join or Support Team Best for Babes this month: donate to Team BFB at the Marine Corps Marathon — we are the first breastfeeding charity team to officially partner with a major marathon!, to Team Operation Lactation Freedom and their Special Dad Forces ;-) –a military team on a mission to let freedom ring at a race in Georgia, or to Team Divas Run for Breastfeeding — led by a pediatrician! Or start your own Team!   

Ask disease foundations to participate in raising awareness about prevention and the protective benefits of breastfeeding

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72 Responses to My Breast Cancer: Why I Won’t Race for the Cure

  1. We at NBCI (Newman Breastfeeding Clinic & Institute) support you and your team in your efforts. We have been working on a similar strategy and would love to join forces with you. It’s about time we focused on an upstream approach, not a downstream one!!! I love the THRIVE not just survive slogan. And we have had enough of women barred from achieving their own feeding goals! Too many women are not getting the support they and their babies need, deserve to have, and have a right to expect. We need to educate healthcare professionals on how to best support mother with true best practice–something we are falling very short of. No wonder so many women quit, give up, feel cheated, feel they couldn’t succeed, feel they could not achieve their own goals. It’s time to take breastfeeding back and help women and their babies start on the best track possible–to good health, to a joyful life, to being the best they can be!
    Danielle, please feel free to get in touch with me.
    Keep up the awesome work!
    E.

    Edith Kernerman, IBCLC
    Executive Director, NBCI
    Newman Breastfeeding Clinic & Institute
    1255 Sheppard Avenue East, Toronto, ON
    M2K 1E2
    ph 416-498-0002
    fx 416-498-0012
    http://www.nbci.ca
    edith@nbci.ca

  2. Andrea von Schoening says:

    Yes, Yes, YES!! Thank you for your great article.
    This is one area (of many) where the focus needs to turn from cure to prevention. It won’t happen without people like you (and me!) speaking out, because, as you say, there is no money to be made and the message must compete with clever marketing which cares not for your health! The link between dairy products and breast cancer is very strong as well, but as long as we allow agressive dairy marketing and supression of these links to cancer, many people will be unaware. The choices of the people will make the changes, and those people need real information to make changes in their choices … thanks for providing some!

  3. As a mother of three, my breastfeeding experience spanned twelve years. My daughters now nurse their babies into toddlerhood and beyond.

    My life is dedicated to furthering faster the breastfeeding movement for the sake of babies and mothers who live to become grammas and great grammas!

  4. My contribution to the prevention of breast cancer is:

    http://www.myspace.com/breastfeedingisthecure

  5. Sue McSheffrey says:

    You are an amazing woman and I salute you. The biggest public policy change that you should all be advocating for is better maternity leave in the US. Here in Canada we have a one year Mat Leave. It makes it so much easier to breast feed and nurture your baby and body. Most European countries have similar provisions, in Scandinavia maternity leave lasts until school starts! Good Luck to all you crusaders.

  6. Michael Cahill says:

    Tell your men to tell their friends. We need more men to stand by their strong women!

    When is the schedule of races to Beat the Booby Traps?

  7. Kim Spencer says:

    OH I couldn’t agree with you more! I REALLY DO cry every year when the pink ribbons show up on the tree lined streets of town. (I live in South GA)…
    When my son was diagnosed with autism I was thrown into the REAL world of toxins, politics, and the true nature of non-profits. I SCREAM every year to whoever will listen (and am branded a nut, probably!) that if that pink crap helped ANYTHING then you wouldn’t be able to buy aluminum antiperspirant and they wouldn’t allow wine to be sold pushing the “pink” “CURE” theme and processed foods would be on the OUTS… (just an example of a FEW things that they could change with all that damn money they have)
    Autism/cancer you name it…many diseases can be prevented by cleaning up our food and our government but that won’t happen anytime soon…so all we can do is keep educating the lemmings. Somebody will hear us eventually, right?

  8. Thank you for having the courage to speak the truth. Not only do we need to focus on prevention, we need to share unrelentingly on media of all sorts that the environmental causes are huge. Rachel Carson knew this when she wrote “Silent Spring” many years ago. Big agra and pharma $$$$$$$ interests keep ignoring the FACT that the same parent companies own both the pesticide manufacturers and the manufacturer of chemo drugs. Please, please continue to tell your compelling story and encourage everyone you know to bag the pink ribbons and go for facts, and spreading them, as soon as possible.

  9. Peri says:

    LOve this piece…God bless you for spreading your message…I am a chiropractor, mother of 4 breast fed beauties..still nursing my 9 month old, hopefully for awhile longer!!!! I preach the prevention message as well…raw,organic, alive food!!!!! So kudos to you for fighting the good fight!!!!!

  10. Well said, well done, well run.

  11. Leslie says:

    Damn right sister!

  12. Michelle says:

    I came back to this post today. I posted a link on my FB 2 years ago. I’m just overwhelmed and disgusted at the people who push “breast cancer awareness” without giving pause to the reasons why BC is on the rise. I’ll be sharing this link again today. Thank you for your words and summary of the frustrations of many women.

  13. Ariel says:

    Great article – I would also add that the mainstream media will never acknowledge the damage abortion does to a woman’s breasts. She deserves to know that stopping her “pregnancy” not only kills her child but also increases her risk for breast cancer. Women should know it all – to prevent it.

  14. Pingback: The Fat Ass Cancer B!#&h to perform at upcoming conference | Our Milky Way

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