Leann's Story and Tips for Navigating TNBC
I recently received a message from Leann Thomas on Facebook. She was diagnosed with Triple Negative Breast Cancer in July 2015, on her 50th birthday. Today, she is a survivor. In honor of National TNBC Day, I wanted to share Leann's story and some of her tips for navigating this new diagnosis.
Here is Leann's Message:
When I was diagnosed with Triple Negative Breast Cancer (TNBC) on my 50th birthday, I immediately started researching it and wanted to have a game plan to help myself and my husband understand the diagnosis and where to go from there. I had always had a fear of having breast cancer. My fear was now coming true. I did a lot of research right after I was diagnosed and came up with the following tips to help women:
1. Research Underwire Bras: I had read an article stating that underwire bras could influence a breast cancer diagnosis because these bras could block the drainage of lymph fluid from the bottom of the breast so it can't get back into your body. Trying to find underwire bras is also a challenge, but they can be found!
2. Consider Making your own Deodorant: I also read that the aluminum in antiperspirants could cause the lymphatic system to get clogged up therefore toxins could build up in the breast area and in the lymph nodes. As a precaution, I decided after my diagnosis to start making my own deodorant. I use it every day and so does my husband. Here is the recipe:
Natural Deodorant Recipe:
1/4 cup coconut oil
1/4 cup corn starch
1/4 cup baking soda
Essential Oil (optional)
Directions: Measure all three ingredients into a small saucepan. Heat over low heat, stirring constantly, until the coconut oil melts and the ingredients are combined. Pour the liquid into the container of your choice. An old, empty stick deodorant container works well. Allow the mixture to cool and solidify, either at room temperature or in the refrigerator. Apply to underarms daily. During warm weather, keep your deodorant in the refrigerator or it may melt.
While there are varying opinions about underwire bras and aluminum in anti-perspirants and their effect on breast cancer, I personally didn't want to take any chances! I am happy with these changes.
3. Thoroughly Review ALL Treatment Options to Pick One that Makes Sense for YOU: After my diagnosis and initial pathology report from the biopsy, I did more research and found that there is no set chemotherapy regimen for TNBC, though chemotherapy is often recommended and I had seen others go through chemotherapy. I did not like the side effects of the chemo meds. I did meet with a medical oncologists and talk about the drugs. After much thought and prayer, I decided that since they did not know what caused my cancer (although I felt like I did) I would not take the chemo. Instead I only had a lumpectomy and radiation. The radiation oncologist and the medical oncologist was fine with my decision and so was my GYN. Now, my surgeon was not happy with me, but I had to do what I felt was best for me and my particular situation. Don't be afraid to go for second opinions and talk about all options to come up with a plan that you feel comfortable with... a plan that makes sense for you and your cancer diagnosis.
4. Nutrients is CRITICAL: I stated that I felt that chemotherapy was not for me. I am super sensitive to synthetic drugs and supplements, but I felt that I needed to heal myself, so I decided to try Juice Plus. I had heard about Juice Plus before which is a whole food supplement and has research to back it up! What a way to get in over 30 fruits and vegetables in a capsule or gummy? Wow, I had to try this because I needed the nutrition and the extra fruits and vegetables in my diet. I found a representative I knew on my social media page. I immediately ordered it and started eating the product (now I say eating it because it has a food label) and I started feeling better. I love what Juice Plus has done for me so much that after having Juice Plus in my body every day for 4 months that I started selling it.
5. Stay Moving: I started low impact aerobics to help me keep my energy level up and my research told me exercise would definitely help. I also have a Fitbit which helps keep me accountable and I strive for 10,000+ steps in a day. Keeping yourself moving is always important, but it is especially important when going through treatment. You don't have to do a strenuous work out, but getting your blood moving can really help.