Thursday, November 3, 2011

From Awareness to Prevention

October was Breast Cancer Awareness Month.  Pink ribbons were everywhere.  You couldn't go to a store without being reminded to "think pink".  Grocery stores lined their aisles with pink tags, indicating a portion of the sale would go toward breast cancer research.  Retail stores stocked the latest pink clothing lines and accessories.  Professional athletes and coaches supported the cause by wearing pink shoes, pink socks, pink ribbons.

As far as awareness goes, I think it's almost impossible to not be aware of breast cancer.  Or is it?  What does that pink ribbon signify?  What does it make you think?  And more importantly, how does it make you respond?  Simply buying a pink item is not enough.  While I do encourage us all to support such efforts monetarily, however big or small, we cannot stop there.  There needs to be action.  We need to take ownership of our health, our bodies and our lives.

I think we can all agree that early detection greatly increases one's chance of survival. Whether it's a mammogram, monthly self-checks, a pap smear or a colonoscopy, screening tests such as these can help detect disease in it's early stages so that you can proceed to treatment and ultimately to complete health.  I had my first mammogram in February after an abnormal MRI showed lesions on my spine.  The radiologists and oncologists considered breast cancer.  I didn't know that over 25% of patients with Stage 4 breast cancer experience metastases to the bone, most often the spine.  My mammogram ended up showing a mass in my breast and spots on my lymph nodes.  I was immediately sent for follow up ultrasounds and two biopsies.  Thankfully, both biopsies came back benign.  Ladies, can we talk about mammograms for a second?  Let me tell you - I walked out that test and couldn't believe that was it.  It was quick (under 5 minutes), painless (a little pushing and squeezing, but definitely not painful - and I was breastfeeding a 5 month old so if there was ever a time to be ultra-sensitive it would have been then).   Don't be afraid.  If you are over 40 years old, make an appointment and get it done.  If you are younger than 40 but have a history of breast cancer in your family, talk to your doctor, be sure you're doing monthly self-examinations and follow up with any concerns.

Okay, that being said, I want to talk about something that is near to my heart.  While early detection may increase our chances of survival, how much more will prevention increase our ability to live. Ultimately, the goal is to not have anything to detect.  Although we can't control everything, there is a whole lot we can do keep our bodies healthy, vibrant and free of dis-ease. And yes, I say this as one who lives with chronic disease and the pain that comes with it.  It's not a contradiction.  I am a wellness warrior on a quest for optimum health.  I cannot and will not accept the idea that my condition has no cure.  I focus instead on becoming whole, bringing my body, mind and spirit to a place of healing.

So my friends, I'm going to assume that you will take action and schedule your annual exams whatever they may be, but that's the easy part.  It's what you do the other 364 days of the year that I'm talking about.  Every morning that we wake up we have new choices to make:  what will we eat? what will we drink? what kind of people will we surround ourselves with? what kind of toxic crap will we allow? are we educating ourselves?  how do we treat our bodies? our minds? our spirits?

Hey, hey, no eye rolling.  If you think eating well and living healthy cost too much or takes too much time, you obviously haven't spent much time in the hospital.  Let me tell you, being sick is way more expensive than staying well.  Having a disease is way more time consuming than preparing a healthy meal, going to the gym or taking time to pray or meditate.

We'll take time this month (during NaBloPoMo) to talk about health and prevention.  There are so many bits of goodness we can get in to.  Oh, and I'd love to hear from you, too. Leave a comment and tell me what you do to live your best life.  Or better yet, let me know what you'd like to change or improve.  There is no shame here - we all need encouragement and support.  Together, let's choose to take back our health.  You deserve it!  Our families deserve it!

Let's do this!


  1. Thanks again for this Kim. You are a great writer and you make me think about healthy choices. For me, the healthiest thing I do is spend time with God reading my Bible. It is the nutrition that my soul needs. What I've learned is that when my soul feels healthy and strong everything else will be okay. Jeff reminds me that every day we are dying. In a sinful world our bodies age, breakdown, and get disease. Now, let me say I exercise, try to eat well, and want to prevent disease as much as anyone. For me personally, I can drive myself crazy freaking out about health things. That isn't healthy because of the stress! God is helping me to trust Him, to set my treasure in heaven, and to trust that my kids are in his care too. This is a daily battle for me. I tend to be a "what if" and "worrier" type of person. So, that is what I do to "live my best life."

  2. Jessica,

    Thank you sharing this. I absolutely agree that spiritual health is critical. No less than diet, exercise and stress management. That being said, I still think we all have decisions to make. I believe that we have been fearfully and wonderfully made, that God has designed our bodies to heal itself. It really is amazing. And that's why I think it's important to be a good steward of what we have. To take care of our bodies (minds and spirits), to live vibrantly so we can carry live out God's best. It sounds like you're doing that by eating well, exercising, spending time in the Word and in prayer. That's great!

    I understand what you mean about worrying about the "what ifs" and making yourself crazy about health issues. You're right, the stress isn't healthy. I don't think we should stress. I think we should educate ourselves and make informed decisions that empower ourselves and those around us. I don't think it's "unspiritual" to make conscious healthy choices for ourselves and our families. I don't trust Him any less. In fact, I'm trying to be faithful with what I have. Personally, God has taught me a lot this year. He has held my hand through some very dark days and has given me new life, new purpose and new passion. That's what I'm sharing here...

    As always, I love and appreciate your honesty. Glad to be living our best life together.



  3. I completely agree with you and want you to know I wasn't disagreeing with you at all. I wasn't even trying to say that spiritual things are more important than taking care of ourselves. I think you know that but just to make sure. I just got to a point after worrying if we were eating enough fruits and vegetables (loved your juicing post to solve that!) if a day went by and we didn't that is okay. I am still learning that I am not in control. Of course I have a responsibility to take care of myself, be informed, eat well, etc. But I can do all those things and my body still may fail me. So then, where is my hope? That is what I'm learning.
    I am so encouraged to be witnessing and learning from your "passion." I think we have grown closer through this chapter in your life than our whole time going to youth group together. I'm so thankful for you.

  4. Several years ago my father got a colonoscopy and they found something that thankfully ended up okay. He then told me that I needed to go get one. I was like, "I'm 25!" haha. Ten years later, I think I may have to consider it sooner than later since he had something. Of course prevention is the trump card! Great message Kim.

  5. I hear you. We can do all the "right" things but still our bodies will fail us at some point. I ask myself that question all the time - "what am I doing wrong?" You're right - sometimes things just happen. And when they do, there is still hope. Amazing hope.

    Yes, I feel like I've grown closer to some people during this short season than I have in all the years we spent together. I'm thankful for that... and for you, too.

  6. Sooner than later is usually a good idea. The dread and anticipation is usually a lot worse than the procedure itself. We could all use a little accountability and encouragement for stuff like this.