A big thank you to a handful of you who picked up the phone to tell me how much they liked my sister’s post on our mother’s journey of dealing and fighting with breast cancer.
It means a great deal to both of us and to those of us who have experienced it first-hand.
I had a one-on-one chat with Dr Amit Bhargava who is a Senior Consultant and Medical Oncologist at Batra Hospital and Medical Research Center.
5 Things You Must Know About Breast Cancer
It’s more common in cities.
Breast cancer is one of the commonest cancers in metro cities. In fact, new statistics show 1 in every 30 women to have breast cancer. Sad but true. (This statistic was true in 2014, unfortunately, this number has only gone up.)
Breast Cancer is equally prevalent in younger women.
The doc continued to tell me how till about 3-5 years ago, his patients were at least in their 50s, after going through menopause. Now, most of his patients are women in mid-thirties or late-thirties, a reality that somewhere, is really frightening.
Your Lifestyle Is Key When It Comes To Breast Cancer.
My next question (after being shocked), was how to stay away from cancer. His suggestion? to get your lifestyle in order. Start by getting your BMI and waist-to-hip-ratio checked, lose weight if you have some extra kilos on (‘coz that really affects the metabolism), and make sure you have a healthy diet full of greens, proteins, fats, vitamins and minerals. Dr. Amit Bhargava also said exercise is really important (this is something that I struggle with myself, the motivation, the drive), but if you can, please try to work out for about 30 minutes. There is so much research, new studies, being performed that cardio, when done right (HIIT i.e. high-intensity interval training), brings with it a host of goodness with it: you tone up, you burn calories, your metabolism gets better etc. Weight training has proved to be just awesome to combat muscle mass and bone density. Dr Bhargava said fatty livers, metabolic syndrome, diabetes can itself cause a host of other lifestyle diseases, so control these as much as possible.
Know How To Do A Give Yourself A Breast Examination
Finally, we came to tests. The doctor recommends a self-breast examination once every 3 months (Google it, and just, you know, do it). It was a self-breast examination that had helped my Mom too. So yeah, there’s truth to what he says. Next, he recommended women in their 20s and 30s who are at high risk, including me, to get preventive screening tests. As most of you probably know, a mammogram is high in radiation and is quite painful, and is recommended for us after we are 40. So what about us? I asked him, the lucky ones who are at higher risk, thanks to genetic predisposition. He suggested getting a consult about an MRI instead of an ultrasound: it is much lower on radiation and high on specificity and gives a clear picture to the oncologist too.
Lastly, take it easy.
There’s just one more thing, that shouldn’t be: don’t take everyday stresses to the heart OK? Stress was one of the most major factors for my mum’s battle with cancer and you, only you, can do something about it. So if you can’t get 90% in your exams, it’s OK! if this boy is not calling you up, don’t lose your head over it, if office politics is getting the better of you every day, I suggest you look for another job. ‘Coz none of these are worth it. Really…your health is much more important.