Hearing the words, “you have stage 3 cancer,” during the first trimester of my first pregnancy at 26 years old completely shifted my entire life. I thought I lived an extremely healthy life and I looked “healthy”. How did I have cancer? From the moment I heard the word “Cancer” I went into complete shock and disbelief. I had a few options: Surgery without anesthetic (due to the pregnancy), Chemotherapy and most likely lose the baby, or wait it out and hope it doesn’t spread to the baby and take over my body and get worse. These are very scary options no matter how old you are or who you are. I knew the right choice was surgery. My life would never be the same once I experienced the pain of surgery along with 50 stitches without anesthetic. However, I will always be thankful that the cancer was removed and the experience stirred a strong passion and desire within me to pursue what building health in my body really means.
In the first weeks after my diagnosis, I kept blaming the cancer on the fact that I grew up in Florida with extreme sun exposure and frequented tanning beds as a teenager and in college because I otherwise felt healthy. My view of “healthy” was not what healthy really is. I exercised, dieted, counted calories, and kept my weight down so I thought I was doing everything right. I was doing everything for the outside appearance and not truly understanding the harmful effects of the many of the foods that I was putting into my body as long as it was “low fat,” “low calorie,” “fat free,” “low carb,” and all of those terms that we’ve all become familiar with over the years. As I was trying to make sense of my diagnosis, my brother (the wellness physician) lovingly confronted me and told me how bad my eating habits were. He informed me that driving through a drive-thru and taking the bun off of a hamburger to make it a low carb option was not as healthy as I thought it was. He also informed me that using fat free artificial spray butter on farm raised fish might was definitely not as healthy as I thought it was either. I couldn’t believe that what I thought was healthy was truly not even close to building “health” in my body. I was basically putting fake food and artificial ingredients into my body and not giving my cells anything to build upon. Our cells regenerate by the foods that we put into our body. If we put clean, whole foods into our bodies, our system will thrive and function properly and we will become stronger and healthier. However, if we do the opposite, we are doing the opposite to our bodies. That was the beginning of a lifestyle change for me, my husband, Brett, and what would be our future daughters.
Learning to Build Health
I learned how foods and toxins could help promote or diffuse my cancer from reappearing. I have learned how important it is to “build health” in my body so that I could have the best possible chance of staying cancer free. I am thankful every day that through my cancer experience, I have the ability to teach others that are seeking better health and I have been able to see lives being transformed by their renewed health every day. My good friend, Ivy Larson from Clean Cuisine and More, has naturally reversed her Multiple Sclerosis through changing to a whole food diet and proper supplementation and has truly been an inspiration to me and so many others. I have incorporated many of her ideas and recipes into my life, especially an anti-inflammatory diet. I feel that my body, much like hers, is becoming a powerhouse by functioning properly and fending off disease. I am not saying that I have the cure for cancer, however, I do know that the cancer has not returned in my body since I made significant changes in my food, my supplementation program and by removing toxins in my home. My blood work also proves that I am drastically healthier today than I ever have been. Based on my experience, I truly believe that cancer and disease cannot thrive in a healthy body and that has made the journey to optimal health an easier road.
Is Sunscreen the Answer?
As summer starts to roll around, more activities are moved outdoors and we start spending more time in the sun. People often relate sun to sunburns and sunburns to skin cancer. There are different types of skin cancer, but melanoma is generally viewed as the most deadly. According to the CDC, there are almost 50,000 cases of melanoma each year and several thousand deaths associated with this type of cancer. According to the Cleveland Clinic, melanoma is the sixth most common cancer in men and women. While most people understand the risk factors associated with excessive sun exposure, it’s important that people understand the risk factors associated with diet and lack of sun. Yes, lack of sun!
The media and even doctors recommend the use of sunscreens help to protect against burns from sun exposure to reduce the risk of melanoma, but there seems to be more to this cancer. For example, a study published in the Archives of Environmental Health, revealed that personnel who worked only indoors had higher rates of melanoma compared to those who had jobs that included both indoor and outdoor work. An article published in The Lancet mentions that melanoma often occurs more often on the soles of the feet versus the hands, although the hands are more exposed to the sun. Also, melanoma can occur more often in some northern countries versus lower countries with greater sun exposure. These studies raise the issue that blocking vitamin D limits one of its main functions – to prevent disease, including cancer like melanoma.
Getting some sunshine can reduce your risk of Vitamin D deficiency. Vitamin D deficiency is associated with a number of diseases. Did you know that even weak sunscreens block your body’s ability to generate vitamin D by 95%? According to Dr. Michael Holick, author of The UV Advantage, sunscreens as weak as SPF 8 can create a critical vitamin deficiency in the body.
Diet and Melanoma
Like most cancers, food plays a part in the development of melanoma. Several dietary factors have proven to be protective against melanoma, such as higher fruit and vegetable consumption. Fruits and vegetables provide Beta-carotene, vitamin E, zinc and antioxidants that all have protective properties against melanoma. The antioxidant CoQ10 has been said to be the most important antioxidant to prevent melanoma or for treatment after being diagnosed. Research has also shown that diets consisting of foods rich in vitamin D and carotenoids and a low consumption of alcohol may be associated with a reduction in risk for melanoma, while high alcohol consumption is associated with an increased risk for melanoma.
One of the most misunderstood pieces of nutrition is fat. Fat plays a part in the development of melanoma. Essential fatty acids are important to the body because the body cannot manufacture fatty acids; they can only be obtained through food or vitamin supplementation. Omega 3s are obtained from fish, flax and nuts and are considered the healthy fats. However, we often consume Omega6 fatty acids from saturated fats in the diet. Certain fats, such as vegetable oils, may increase melanoma risk. The body, including the skin, needs healthy fats. Remember that the body and the skin will use whatever fat it is fed, good or bad. A good example of good fat is derived from Grassfed and finished beef which contains conjugated linoleic acid, a fat that is said to protect against the development of melanoma.
What Has Worked for Me
After my diagnosis, I completely changed my diet and the way I lived. It didn’t happen overnight, but what really helped me was challenging myself for 30 days. I took one week at a time to focus on household products, beauty products, food, and my fitness regimen. I evaluated the products that we were using to clean our home and replaced the harmful ones with non-toxic products that were safe for all of our family…even the dogs! I went into my bathroom and checked out all of the products that I applied on my skin and my body – I was surprised to find most of them containing harmful parabens and chemicals. I researched to find brands that would still satisfy my daily beauty regimen, but would not be harmful to my body. I immediately began incorporating more whole foods into my diet, including more fruits, vegetables, natural sweeteners, and nuts and seeds. I also changed the meat that my entire family consumed. We began purchasing grassfed and finished beef instead of commercial beef that can be filled with antibiotics, hormones, and harmful saturated fat. My research also proved that it is almost impossible to gain all of the necessary nutrients from food, I began a whole-foods vitamin regimen through the #1 natural nutrition company called Shaklee. After researching for the right supplement brand and products, I found that Shaklee had solid integrity and that their products were from the purest ingredients. I take a Vitamin D supplement each day because I know that my body needs extra vitamin D to keep melanoma from coming back into my body. Also, I try to see the sun as much as I can. As little as 10 minutes of sunshine a couple times a week can help prevent vitamin D deficiencies. Also, I started and have continued beginning each day with exercise to keep my body at its peak performance level. My doctors told me that I would have a near 100% chance that the cancer would quickly return…well, it’s been almost a decade and I’ve never had a recurrence. So, again, all I know is that changing my diet and lifestyle worked for me.
Have I done it perfectly every day for the past 9 years? Of course not. I make mistakes every day. However, knowledge is power. There is a ton of research that links food, sugar and toxins to cancer. We were designed for a purpose and we all have a deep passion inside of us to thrive and to live out our passion. However, way too many of us get our lives cut short by cancer and disease. According to the CDC, over 1.4 million Americans are diagnosed with cancer each year. Without our health we truly have nothing! We lose our ability to fulfill our roles as spouses, parents, employees, and friends. Please join me and live healthy and love life!!!
My Story, My Passion
I will forever keep trying to help spread the word of 360yourlife, which was started to try and help us all get back to the way we were designed and created to live. Also, as a result of my cancer, I partnered with the #1 natural nutrition company – Shaklee. Being both a customer and a distributer, I have been able to, not only feel better than ever, but to see health transformations all of the United States. I am so thankful today for my precious daughter, Reagan, who gave me a purpose in life to be a Mom and to have a bigger purpose to help make an impact on our health crisis in America. When I was told that I had cancer, I was in complete shock and went in and out of shock for a couple years. However, over the years and growing into motherhood and the person God created me to be, I have realized my purpose and my responsibility in my life and the life of others to share my knowledge and love for others. I do believe that one person can make an impact on a life and the next generation to come. Margaret Mead, an American cultural anthropologist, once said, “Never doubt that a small group of concerned citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” I believe that!
Brooke’s Favorite Summer Meals:
Pre-Breakfast: Lemon & Ginger room temperature filtered Water & BURST Workout
Breakfast: Antioxidant Protein Smoothie with Blueberries, Spinach, Homemade Vanilla Cashew Hemp Milk, Non-GMO Protein Powder
Post-Breakfast: Vitamins with Alkaline Water (CoQ10, Vitalizer, Vita D)
Lunch: Collard Green Wrap filled with Avocado, Sprouts, Tomatoes, and Hemp Seeds with Carrot Sticks and Sliced Peppers with Hummus on the side
Snack: Raw Almonds or Homemade Protein Power Balls (need to change the BALL WORD)
Dinner: Cauliflower Pizza Crust Pizza topped with Organic Pizza Sauce, Spinach, Tomatoes, Mushrooms, and Goat Cheese with Red Wine
Dessert: 1 Scoop Coconut Milk Ice Cream
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