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.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.
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.
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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