I had an interesting realization recently that showed me how important all this chemical free stuff really is. If you haven’t heard of an organization in Spokane called ‘Beyond Pink‘, well, you’re missing out on something so important.
So much of what we consume these days can lead to the development of cancer. Sugar, chemicals in our household and personal care products, processed meats, fragrance – all of these things have links to cancer. While it’s hard to avoid all of them all the time, it’s important to be aware, and make changes as necessary.
Recently, I was attending an event with a group of women who have set out to inspire others by sharing their struggles. The stories we share are compiled on the BuildU Girl Gang blog that is free to view. Our hope is to reach as many women as possible, and that they find something that resonates with them and provides hope for the future. I was introduced to Charlie Brewer, one of the founders of Beyond Pink, at this event. She spoke softly, but with an obvious passion for her mission. She spoke about Thermography and the mission of her organization. At the end of her introduction, she said, “Now I’ve seen all of your faces, so I better see a grant request for every single one of you tomorrow morning!”
Thermography is a medical screening device for breast cancer and other breast disease using infrared detectors, commonly called infrared cameras. This procedure is non invasive and does not use radiation. It is complimentary to mammography and causes no harm to the patient. Beyond Pink is dedicated to providing information on breast thermography, risk assessment, early detection, prevention and ultimately the preservation of the breast and the survival of women. (Source: beyondpink.net)
One thing to keep in mind is that Thermography is not a stand alone examination and cannot diagnose or rule out the presence of breast cancer regardless of the risk rating assigned. It is a fantastic addition to standard breast screenings and diagnostic examinations. When interpreting the images, they look for unusual patterns of blood vessels and warming that can suggest inflammation or unusual vascular activity. Inflammation or unusual vascular activity may suggest risk for the presence of breast cancer or risk for developing cancer in the future.
To say the least, I was intrigued. As I filled out my grant application, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I was inspired by Charlie’s call to action, and figured there is really nothing to lose! My grant was approved within a week of application – these ladies are really on top of their stuff! I scheduled my appointment, and patiently waited to see what this thermography thing was all about.
The appointment for my imaging was… a little awkward. I should have known what to expect, but for some reason, I wasn’t prepared for my tata’s to be hanging out for an entire hour. Karla, the technician and co-founder of Beyond Pink, made me feel comfortable and totally at ease – she has done this hundreds of times! In order to ensure the best images possible, you’re first asked to disrobe from the waist up and allow your upper body to cool down. This process takes 15 minutes. Once your body temperature has dropped a bit, they begin the process of taking images. To conclude your appointment, Karla completes a thorough breast exam. After the one hour appointment, Karla prepares your images and sends them to the Beyond Pink provider of your choice to interpret the results.
As part of the grant, each patient receives a 30 minute visit with a qualified Naturopathic Doctor (ND). Naturopathic Medicine emphasizes the prevention, treatment, and optimal health through the use of therapeutic methods and substances that encourage self healing. Unfortunately, western medicine does not practice around the idea of prevention. I love that Beyond Pink partners with these types of professionals – you would likely never hear a medical doctor promoting the types of preventative measures that a ND recommends.
When I arrived, we sat down and started discussing my results. Based on the images, you are given two different ratings – Thermal Risk Rating (TH) and Estrogen activity. The TH rating describes the level of inflammation and blood vessel activity in your breast tissue. A higher rating can contribute to your current and future risk. This rating is scored on a scale of 1-5, with 5 behind the highest risk. Elevated estrogen levels have been identified as a significant risk factor for breast cancer. Your results will show your estrogen levels on a scale of 1-4, with four being the highest risk. These two ratings, along with the temperature patterns in the left and right breast, can provide valuable insights into your current and future risks for developing cancer.
The later half of the appointment is spent discussing prevention. The ND will discuss your current lifestyle, and how you can improve in your every day life to reduce your risk of breast cancer. Reducing your environmental exposures can have a significant impact on your overall health. Cleaning up your personal care products, like make-up, deodorants, and discontinuing the use of fragrance are the first recommendations that are made. Talk about affirmation of everything I’ve learned! It was surreal talking with a professional about the true risks of these types of products on long term health! The ND will also recommend a set of dietary guidelines. Limiting alcohol, caffeine, soy and GMO consumption, eating organic, and daily exercise are all important to consider, especially if you’re thermogram shows your high risk. On top of that, considering natural cleaners, glass food containers, and dumping your fragrance plug-ins and candles will help to limit your exposures at home. If you’ve been reading my blog, you can see why my mind was literally blown!
If you have never heard of Beyond Pink, or you have and you have NOT had your Thermogram, I would encourage you to go to their website and complete the grant application! If you are over the age of 20, yes 2-0, they recommend you have one. If you have a history of breast cancer in your family, I urge you even more to go have this done! It is free, unless you feel you can contribute financially to the fee. These women are professional, and passionate in their mission of helping women take preventative measures against breast cancer. You will not regret your decision to do this for yourself.