October is the month devoted to awareness raising on the prevention of Breast Cancer.
Each year in the UK 55,213 new cases are diagnosed meaning that 151 women discover they have this illness every day, beginning what will be a long struggle for them. According to data from the Cancer Research UK 23% of breast cancer cases are preventable.
Luckily, thanks to research and screenings to provide early diagnosis, today the survival rate for 10 years or more years from diagnosis is continually increasing, currently at 78%.
But that is not enough. And it is for that reason that we at Curves want to make our contribution, by spreading the awareness among women that a healthy and active lifestyle can help keep in good health.
Furthermore, at the end of this article, we share with you the special testimony of our Curvette Isabel Miralles, an example to follow with her courage and determination to overcome breast cancer.
The proper check at every age
At 30-35, if there are no specific risk factors (such as a history of tumours in their family), each woman should have periodic check-ups with an annual breast examination and ultrasound.
After the age of 40, on the other hand, it is recommended that you include a mammogram every one or two years, also following your physician’s advice.
The risk of developing a breast tumour is generally higher starting from the age of 50, after menopause. The general advice, however, is to arrange and plan checks with your GP before entering this age range.
Furthermore, in cases of hereditary breast tumours (represents 5-7% of the female population), a useful examination together with your annual mammogram is an MRI scan.
The alarm bells
What are the symptoms and signs that can lead us to suspect the presence of a tumour?
- increase in consistency on palpation due to the presence of nodules
- any variation of the breast tissue: indentations of the skin, swelling of the breast or a part of it
- leakage of serum, milk or blood from the nipple
- redness and thickening of the skin around the nipple
- swelling of the lymph nodes under the armpit
- pain in the nipple area or spread over the whole breast
Prevention by adopting a healthy lifestyle
There are certain risk factors that we can affect directly in order to avoid and seek to prevent cancer, first and foremost lifestyle. In particular, it is calculated that adopting healthy habits can prevent the appearance of one cancer in three.
Here are our suggestions to look after your health:
- Engage in physical activity: it has been amply demonstrated that day-to-day habits can inhibit the formation of tumours. Women who participate in sport regularly, in fact, show a reduction of 15-20% in the risk of falling ill. There is also a close correlation between obesity and the incidence of breast cancer, above all after childbearing age.
- Follow a balanced diet rich in vegetables: several research studies demonstrate that this type of illness is most widespread among populations that have a diet rich in animal fats. In contrast, the traditional Mediterranean diet, with its typical foodstuffs (olive oil, oily fish, fruit, vegetables and cereals), would provide effective prevention. In addition to the quality of food, quantity is also important: calories must always be calculated based on age, weight and the types of activities carried out.
- Smoking and alcohol also have harmful effect on health and considerably increase the risk of numerous oncological pathologies in addition to breast cancer.
That’s why it is so important for us at Curves to encourage women to have a healthy lifestyle, making physical exercise a habit and helping them with a personalised training package. Our training programme has been specially designed to be followed easily and regularly, even on days packed with commitments: in just 30 minutes you can train fully and acquire more energy day after day!
Breast Cancer and Curves
Curves member and Breast Cancer survivor, Isabel Miralles, shares her Curves journey with us.
My name is Isabel Miralles, I am 51 years old and I have been attending Curves for a couple of years now. I have been asked to share “what it means to train at Curves” for all women who have overcome breast cancer, for those who are struggling with it now and, of course, for all those who have battled with all of their strength and have never given up, right to the end.
In 2015 I was diagnosed with breast cancer and from that moment I began to be tormented with questions: “why me…, why now…, why?” Until I managed to find the strength to enable me to carry on.
It was a year when I counted each day, hoping that it was one less to wait for recovery. It was a year when all my energies were focused on winning the battle against cancer. I shared my experience, my thoughts and what I went through in a blog, which you can read here: "Living with cancer". I called it that because my obsession during the illness, at that time, was not “what if I die?”, but “how will I live afterwards?”
Today, remembering that day, I recall may bald head due to the chemo, a body without any energy, like an “old sack” beaten by the collateral effects and by the radiotherapy sessions, my sore chest after the surgery and the lack of sensitivity in my arm due to the loss of the lymphatic chain.
It was that day that I asked my doctor:
– And now, what can I do to stop it returning?
He looked at me with all the humanity that a person can transmit with his gaze, his smile and his voice, and he said:
– There are 3 things that you can do Isabel:
- exercise for at least 30 minutes a day
- don't take harmful substances into your body (no drugs and just healthy food)
- and be happy.
With this, we don't know if the cancer will reappear or not, but without doubt it will be more unlikely and, if it were to return, it would find you better prepared for the struggle.
At the start I began to walk for 30 minutes, I couldn’t do anything else, but I felt that each day my body was not giving up, and it was a step forward.
When I discovered Curves I had a number of concerns: “what if it’s too hard for me?”, “what if I strain my arm and the lymphoedema returns?”, “what if my body doesn't respond and I lag behind my colleagues?”
How amazing when I discovered that none of the machines can force your body more than it allows, when I felt supported so that I wouldn't hurt myself while I was training on the circuit, when I discovered that there are no problems that exist with the other people, but only with yourself, your commitment and your delusions.
Respecting the training programme, making sure the light turns green, checking my progress each month, being happy to earn a prize after each challenge… all this supported me and helped me in my personal struggle against cancer.
Understanding that 30 minutes of exercise a day enable you to live the present in a more aware and intense way is the true strong point of the Curves programme.
In this test that we must pass, we who are dealing with cancer can’t avoid experiencing fear; but today I can say that I had the strength each day to ensure that the illness would not return, and that’s what I proclaim with my t-shirts for 100 and 200 training sessions…
At Curves I do 30 minutes of physical exercise, I take care of my diet and I always have a smile on my face. Curves makes me strong, makes me live with more safety and enthusiasm!
Enrolling at a Curves Club means receiving advice and support every day to maintain a healthy and balanced lifestyle and achieve your own physical and mental wellbeing!