It’s almost October and that means it’s almost Breast Cancer Awareness Month. This marks the sixth year of our Pink Ribbon Campaign, made possible by our partnership with Breastcancer.org, the leading online resource for breast health and breast cancer information and support.
What does this mean for you? Well, throughout the month of October, XFINITY TV customers can explore and watch a wealth of educational videos on XFINITY.com/tv, XFINITY On Demand and on the XFINITY TV app that focus on breast cancer awareness and prevention as well as entertaining programs that explore the illness from different angles.
For more on why it’s so important for woman to take the time and responsibly for their health, I spoke with Dr. Marisa Weiss, the founder of Breastcancer.org.
Q: Breast Cancer Awareness Month is almost here. Can you tell me a little bit about what that means for you and why it’s so important to have an entire month dedicated to breast cancer awareness?
A: Everyone is bombarded by a million different types of information all the time. Certain things come to mind and get certain people’s attention if it’s newsworthy or relevant to them or if they have loved ones diagnosed. They get in the habit of focusing on breast cancer during October and that is when they’re going to brush up on what they need to know.
The other thing is that breast cancer is the most common type of cancer to affect women. Not only it is the most common cancer to affect women, but if you look at all the cancers that affect women in one year – 29 percent is breast cancer – the next most common is lung cancer which is 14 percent and then colon which is nine percent and everything else is way below 10 percent. The reality is that most breast cancers are not inherited – there is a lot you can do to reduce your risk.
Q: This is the 6th year for the partnership between Breastcancer.org and Comcast. Could you tell me a little bit about why you continue to be excited about this collaboration? And what do you want people to get from that partnership ultimately?
A: Well first of all, we are very proud to work with Comcast and we are very grateful for that collaboration. We feel that we are both part of this successful Philadelphia story – the companies in Philadelphia that have benefited the world.
The fact is that, we are little smaller, obviously, but 17 million people will come to Breastcancer.org this year and they are proud to see us on Comcast. It makes people feel cared for that corporations like Comcast care about them. This is a big positive message, and that people are listening and trying to do what they can to fulfill the need.
Q: Do you come in contact with any breast cancer myths that you would like to dispel?
A: Regularly. A lot of people think that mammograms aren’t very useful when in fact mammograms save lives. Most breast cancers could be diagnosed early when they are most curable. Less than 50 percent of women are taking advantage of early detection. Women get sick and tired of hearing all the controversies and arguments about how they are valuable or not and the result is that they let it slip and slide. So they are underutilizing it and they are not gaining potential and the advantage of early detection. Instead they are losing their lives because they haven’t taken advantage. Mammography does save lives.
The other thing is that a lot of women think that mammography itself is prevention when it’s not. So mammography is the best for early detection. If you have it and find it early you are going to give yourself your best shot at getting rid of it and never seeing it again and becoming cancer-free. That’s your best shot.
The biggest myth by far is that people say, “If it’s not in my family, it’s not something I need to worry about.” But the fact is, even if a vegetarian yoga instructor with no family history can get breast cancer. Breast cancer used to be uncommon about 50 to 100 years ago and now it’s become the most common cancer to affect women. And it’s mostly increased because of the changing risk factors — less physical activity, more obesity, more alcohol use, early puberty, late first full-term pregnancy, no breastfeeding, smoking – as well as a full range of new chemicals that are out there that didn’t use to be there, that can kind of smell like, feel like, taste like, act like estrogen to the breast cell.
Q: Since you mentioned vegetarianism, can you speak a little bit about how diet plays a part in prevention, as outlined in the Think Pink, Live Green guide on Breastcancer.org?
A: Sure. The fact is that most cases of breast cancer relate to how you live your life – the wear and tear of everyday living. How your inside environment interacts with your outside environment. So anything you take something from your outside world into your body – into your inner environment – that affects how your cells can work and run. And so if you look at all the things you bring from the outside in – most of what you bring in is food. So food ends up being one of the areas that where you can influence how healthy you are because if you are eating healthy food you are giving yourself the best building blocks to use to build your breast tissue and aid for your future breast health.
It does matter what you eat and the best diet is pretty much a plant-based diet, but thinking about it broadly. It’s not just fruits and vegetables – it’s nuts, seeds, spices and whole grains. To do that and to make the beef, make the chicken, make the pork, make the lamb a side dish and not the main show on the plate.
When it comes to the organic stuff that matters when it comes to things that can be heavily treated with pesticides. If you’re familiar with the environmental group, “dirty dozen”? It shifts a little from year to year, but apples, peaches, berries – the delicate stuff that they need to ship and not worry about it getting boo-boos on it and people not buying it and bruised and rotten by the time it gets to the store. So the items on the “dirty dozen” lists are the ones you want to buy organic. And the ones on the “clean 15” list are the ones you don’t really need to worry about.
Q: In addition to being a doctor and a breast cancer survivor, you’re also a wife and a mother. Is there any advice you can give to other wives or mothers specifically?
A: What I would say is that women have enormous power and mothers have enormous power. In most households you are the ones who are setting the standard and making everyone else’s lives work out — we have so much responsibility.
We end up being the ones who have the greatest influence of what’s coming into the house in terms of food. The kids are going to eat what is there, generally. So what you eat, and what you bring in to eat and drink, and how you cook, how you freeze, how you heat up, how you serve on all those surfaces – those all matter in terms of being healthy. You can make some simple choices to make those things healthier. For example, in terms of buying food, I would say organic dairy products are the most important things after the “dirty dozen” list. You want to buy the organic dairy products, because that makes a difference. And using the things that you cook in – stainless steel, glass, ceramic, enamored covered metals, and cast-iron – and avoiding cooking in a non-stick pans, and in plastic. Don’t heat up your food in plastic.
And then when it comes to beverages like water and stuff like that, the best water is filtered tap water rather than bottled water. But regardless, it’s good to carry it around in a metal water bottle or one of those glass water bottles that has a silicone sleeve on the outside that protects it against bumping and bruising.
So I would say to the mothers that you have the most influence out of any single person on what goes in and around your family and that you are leading by example and that your daughters are watching you, as are your friends. Don’t ever underestimate the influence that you have.
Q: Breastcancer.org is such a wonderful and useful tool. If there was one thing that you would want people to take away from your site, what would that be?
A: I would say if you’re going through breast cancer, don’t do it alone. We are there with medical expertise and personal support to help you through the journey. And that your life is your greatest gift and we are there to help protect you and protect and cherish it.
Q: I know you focus on awareness and prevention, but what would you say to someone who has been recently diagnosed – any advice that you would give them?
A: That they have to take the time to understand the extent and nature of the cancer problem that they have uniquely and work with their team of doctors to get the best customized treatment plan possible – because it’s only one you, it’s only in one of each person. The fact is that there is no “one size fits all.” So you do need to take the time and effort to figure out what is the extent and nature of the problem that you have so that the treatment plan is the smartest and most effective plan that applies to your situation.
The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Comcast.