Breast Health: More Than One Disease
LOUISVILLE (Herald de Paris) – A concerned young man from Cape Town, South Africa, wrote to me recently, alarmed that bovine growth hormone in cow's milk is causing breast cancer.
I sat here and pondered his sweet, singular message. I reflected over my years of self-directed diet and nutrition study and my work with tens of thousands of breast surgery patients - real women from all over the world who make up the fabric of our society. One thing I know for sure is that from the tip of the iceberg to the tip of South Africa, our diets, which have greatly strayed from anything resembling whole, natural and authentic, are deeply destroying our health and, specifically, women's breast health.
When people meet me they often assume a slight tilt to their heads, soften their expressions and lower their voices while expressing to me what a noble cause breast cancer is. I couldn't agree with them more. Except that's not what I do. My work is actually breast health. We are one of the few non-profit organizations (if not the only one) that help women through the many conditions and surgeries that aren't breast cancer-related. And believe me, while you may or may not have had to think about it, breast cancer is not the only breast affliction a woman can face in her lifetime.
Sadly, only breast cancer non-profits and for-profits receive funding, which means that the resources available to women for everyday breast afflictions are largely non-funded and underdeveloped (even though these also help to detect, as well as work to prevent, breast cancer). To top it off, those administering the much-needed care and information are nearly always unpaid.
Mother Teresa said, "I was once asked why I don't participate in anti-war demonstrations. I said that I will never do that, but as soon as you have a pro-peace rally, I'll be there." I'm from the Mother Teresa school of thought, which says that anything you fight will persist. I'm not anti-breast cancer. I'm pro-health. My work for over the last decade has to do with the breast afflictions women face (and the resulting care they need) that do not fall under the auspices or funding that breast cancer receives. My work also has to do with the whole woman, as well as her family and the community, in terms of learning how to use nutrition to actually sustain and promote life and health.
I feel this is one of the most important aspects of maintaining breast health. It is the foundation of our life and health. Food is life. We are what we eat, and we cannot sustain life and health with fast food nor with boxed and processed foods sitting on grocery store shelves. I'm constantly struck by the oddness of seeing grocery carts filled with brightly colored boxes, cans and packages. What is that? That's not food. Real food consists of whole, natural, unprocessed, living works of art that you could hunt and gather yourself in nature. While our society has moved away from our own hunting and gathering, our return to our original diets is a tremendous and profound necessity if we have any hope of true wellness.
Articles, studies and movements abound on the diets and increased disease states and mortality rates of entire countries. In France, Japan and other countries, more western and globally processed foods are taking over traditional "slow food" culture, though it's been going on for much longer than the last century. France appears to be suffering from an unusually alarming and worsening mortality rate with breast cancer patients, despite the grass-roots "Slow Food" movement that began in Italy in 1986 and subsequently founded at Opéra Comique in Paris, where the Slow Food Manifesto was signed in 1989.
While country-wide and global movements are much needed, hands-on care on an individual basis is still required to enact real change. We work with women individually to first teach them what they need to know about the procedures they're facing, then to teach them how to eat so they can recover and heal effectively. We have their attention the longest during this period of time, and we endeavor to reach as many women as we can.
Women sometimes find us after their surgeries, armed with little or no information or support. Some have gaping wounds and have spent considerable time applying ointment and bandages to no avail. In one case, leeches were applied.
Within two weeks, if they really listen, we can make a marked difference and see them through to complete healing. But we also can change their lives forever, as well as the lives of their families, at the same time through the knowledge they gain. I developed "The Healing Diet," a whole, natural foods diet, with the help of surgeon Dr. Grant Stevens, who also worked in burn wards. This diet promotes healing as well as effectively balances blood sugar. Stable blood sugar promotes healing and good health. Natural, whole, unprocessed foods are the cornerstone. The diet builds on itself to teach lifelong dietary skills to those who take advantage of our free and unending help that now encompasses quite a few programs and options.
As an organization, our goal is to find a city, state or country, as well as funding, that would welcome and embrace a large headquarters to directly assist people - individuals, families, the local community and the global community - by teaching about breast health, whole health and beyond. It would be a waste of time and funding to not be in the midst of an engaged, true community. It is from there that our work will spread. We have a very clear vision of the mission and goals we want to accomplish and have had this vision for the last decade. But because the only aspect of breast health that is funded is actually a disease - breast cancer - there are no grants, major funding, contributions, corporate or private donor gifts available for breast health and the betterment of health for people everywhere.
While it is important to make medical advances in disease states, we also must direct funding to promote true health and wellness. As soon as we begin to focus our time, energy and money on promoting authentic health, the degree to which we will have to fight breast cancer (and many other diseases) will lessen greatly.
By Annette (Anni) Bricca from Herald de Paris Contributor's Bureau