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.
Anyone ever had that moment where you make a decision, once proposed by your husband and you subsequently ignored him because he was being ridiculous? That moment that follows months or years down the road. He says the words, “I told you that a long time ago”. This happens to me quite often. I love my husband so much, but there are many times where I don’t take his advice to heart. He is so wise beyond his years, and incredibly talented. I guess I have this need to find things out for myself? Who knows.
This not so uncommon occurrence happened recently when I replaced all of our plastic food containers, for glass. Conrad has always HATED plastic containers. They seriously gross him out so bad. Me? I LOVE them. They’re cheap, stack together for easy storage, and I can store all my meal prepped food in them. I can also throw them out if something questionable has been stored in it for way too long. I grew up using plastic containers. It’s an easy choice for me.
Conrad loves to use gallon Ziploc bags to store everything. Yes, it seems like a better alternative because you use it once, and you throw it away. Totally bad for the environment though – not a fan. He just hates that you can literally see the food left over from an overly used plastic container. Conrad whined for years that he prefers glass. Time and time again, I would say, “No, because I have to clean them, and it’s a pain!” Of course, since he wasn’t doing the dishes, we never made the switch.
Then, one fateful day, I watched the documentary The Devil We Know on Netflix. Want to continue life as you know it? DON’T watch this documentary. I question everything I once believed after learning some of the staggering facts about the ingredients used to create plastic and non-stick products.
Yes, I switched all of our plastic containers over to glass Pyrex containers (my husband won!). I will soon switch all of my Teflon coated pans to stainless steel as well. Many companies still utilize BPA (Bisphenol A) in the production of their plastic goods. BPA has also been found in the inner lining of aluminum cans, and many other consumer products. Constant heating of a plastic food container can cause chemicals to seep into your food or beverages. “Exposure to BPA is a concern because of possible health effects on the brain, behavior and prostate gland of fetuses, infants, and children. Additional research suggests a possible link between BPA and increased blood pressure.” (Source: Mayoclinic.org) Maybe this doesn’t sound risky to you, but the switch for me was simple, and why not do it just in case?
If you’re concerned about the possible effects of BPA, you can reduce exposure by:
- Using BPA-free products. Manufacturers are creating more BPA-free products. Labels will now indicate if something is BPA-free. If there isn’t a label, keep a lookout for plastics marked with recycle codes 3 or 7 – they may be made with BPA.
- Cut back on cans. Reduce your use of canned foods since most cans are lined with BPA-containing resin. I have seen some cans that now claim they are BPA free – especially organic products, so watch out for that as well.
- Avoid heat. The National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences advises against microwaving polycarbonate plastics or putting them in the dishwasher because the plastic may break down over time and allow BPA to leach into foods.
- Use alternatives.Use glass, porcelain or stainless steel containers for hot foods and liquids instead of plastic containers.
The Devil We Know touches more on the scandal surrounding the DuPont Teflon plant in Parkersburg, West Virginia and how they covered up the risks of exposure to humans. The major story with Teflon is regarding a chemical that is emitted in it’s production, PFOA. Even the smallest exposure to this gas has been shown to cause birth defects, cancer, and even death. Not even being over dramatic. The small town of Parkersburg called Dupont out on dumping chemicals into their water supply, causing farmers to lose 100’s of cattle, among all of the other health effects above. Meeting minutes between Dupont leadership shows that they knew about the contamination of the water supply, and they did nothing to stop it. The chemical is so prevalent, the CDC states that 99.7% of Americans are born with PFOA in their blood streams.
You guys, I’m not joking. This stuff is REAL. I say it every time – I sound like a psychopath. This documentary is no joke though. It’s not some type of biased opinion about something political. These are cold hard facts about a company literally putting millions of Americans in harms way, just to make a buck. Don’t even watch the documentary. Look up PFOA, or Dupont, or Teflon scandal. The information you will find is incredibly alarming, and the stories of deformities, cancer diagnosis, and death are way too real.
I haven’t dished out the cash for my new pots and pans yet, but when you’re buying pots and pans, whenever possible, choose items made from safe, non-toxic materials like carbon steel, ceramic, lava rock, porcelain enamel, or tempered glass. Cast iron and stainless steel are generally okay, though they too can leach heavy metals – iron and nickel respectively – into your food, so it’s generally a good idea to stick to other materials for long-simmering dishes or recipes that contain a lot of acid, such as tomato-based foods. (Source: https://www.organicauthority.com)
See these links for information about Teflon and the health risks they impose.
Moral of this whole story, listen to your husband. He is usually right, you’re just too blind to see it.