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Fast Food Addict Mom, 50, Joins A Weight Loss Class And Finds A Breast Lump: Losing 56 Pounds Caught My Cancer And Saved My Life! – SurvivorNet

Jun 27th, 2022

Jo Atkins, 50, is a breast cancer survivor. And she credits her weight loss journey for leading to her treatment success.

Atkins, from London, England, was determined to lose weight after reaching over 200 pounds and watching her husband suffer from a severe stroke that left him paralyzed on the right side.

Id tried all sorts of diets over the years and yo-yoed with my weight. Id eat a lot of convenience food, takeaways, Id skip meals then binge in the evenings.

RELATED: Major Reduction in Cancer Risk by Following Old Standbys Diet and Exercise

Atkins joined a weight loss program and decided to eat healthier in 2017. Later that same year, she noticed a lump in her breast.

I was laying in bed watching [TV] one evening and noticed it as I turned over, she said.

She didnt think too much of it initially, but decided to make an appointment about a week later. Thats when doctors discovered her stage two breast cancer. For treatment, she underwent surgery, six rounds of chemotherapy and 20 sessions of radiotherapy.

RELATED: U.S. Breast Cancer Rates are Rising: Is It Linked to Womens Growing Obesity, Dropping Fertility?

Atkins is cancer-free and thriving in 2022. Shes still involved with her diet group, and today she weighs 119 pounds.

I am convinced if I hadnt lost the weight and that fat tissue hadnt gone, theres no way I would have felt that lump, she said.

Breast canceris a common cancer that has been the subject of much research. Many women develop breast cancer every year, but men can develop this cancer too though it is more rare, in part, due to the simple fact that they have less breast tissue.

Screening for breast cancer is typically done via mammogram, which looks for lumps in the breast tissue and signs of cancer.The American Cancer Society (ACS) sayswomen should begin yearly mammogram screening for breast cancer at age 45 if they are at average risk for breast cancer. The ACS also says those aged 40-44 have the option to start screening with a mammogram every year, and women age 55 and oldercan switch to a mammogram every other year, or they can choose to continue yearly mammograms.

Its also important to be on top of self breast exams. If you ever feel a lump in your breast, you should be vigilant and speak with your doctor right away. Voicing your concerns as soon as you have them can lead to earlier cancer detection which, in turn, can lead to better outcomes.

There are many treatment options for people with this disease, but treatment depends greatly on the specifics of each case. Identifying these specifics means looking into whether the cancerous cells have certain receptors. These receptors the estrogen receptor, the progesterone receptor and the HER2 receptor can help identify the unique features of the cancer and help personalize treatment.

RELATED: Alert for Women With Breast Cancer: What The Amazing New Findings About The Drug Enhertu Mean For You & What To Ask Your Doctor

These receptors, I like to imagine them like little handson the outside of the cell, they can grab hold of what we call ligands,and these ligands are essentiallythe hormones that may be circulating in the bloodstreamthat can then be pulled into this cancer celland used as a fertilizer, as growth support for the cells,Dr. Elizabeth Comen, a medical oncologist atMemorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, previously told SurvivorNet.

The Unique Features of Breast Cancer: Deciding the Right Course of Treatment

One example of a type of ligand that can stimulate a cancer cell is the hormone estrogen, hence why an estrogen receptor positive breast cancer will grow when stimulated by estrogen. For these cases, your doctor may offer treatment that specifically targets the estrogen receptor. But for HER2 positive breast cancers, therapies that uniquely target the HER2 receptor may be the most beneficial.

Risk for developing breast cancer varies greatly from person to person, so its important to discuss your specific risk level with your doctor. That being said, there are some important risk factors to keep in mind.

In a previous interview with SurvivorNet, Dr. Comen laid out several risk factors for breast cancer including:

Heavy alcohol consumptionandobesityhave been linked to a number of cancers, so its a good idea to exercise and maintain a diet that incorporates more fruits and vegetables, whole grains and lean proteins while decreasing sodium and added sugar intake.

And looking at breast cancer more specifically, its important to know that excess weight can put women at a higher risk of developing this disease. So, maintaining a healthy diet and regularly exercising is one way to reduce your breast cancer risk.

In a previous interview with SurvivorNet, Dr. Comen explained why carrying around excess weight can increase your breast cancer risk.

Major Reduction in Cancer Risk by Following Old Standbys Diet and Exercise

We know that when women are overweight, they can have a state of inflammation in their bodies, she said. Some of those fat cells can make estrogen. And we know that being exposed to too much estrogen over a womans lifetime can significantly increase her risk of breast cancer.

So, what can you do to reduce your breast cancer risk? Well, one thing is to exercise regularly. And that doesnt mean you have to go out and train for marathons all the time, but trying to stay physically active can make a big difference.

In fact, the National Cancer Institute shared a a 2016 meta-analysis showing that, the most physically active women had a 1221% lower risk of breast cancer than those who were least physically active.

Another way to try to minimize your breast cancer risk is to eat a healthy diet. And similar to exercise, overall health is key so you dont have to always skip dessert. That being said, one thing you might want to limit when considering your breast cancer risk is our alcohol intake.

Alcohol Can Increase the Risk of Developing Breast Cancer

We know theres a clear link between breast cancer and alcohol consumption. In November 2017, the American Society of Clinical Oncology published a statement citing evidence that links alcohol to multiple cancers and calling for reduced alcohol consumption as a way to cut peoples cancer risk.

In a previous interview with SurvivorNet, Dr. Comen says that every drink consumed increases cancer risk.

What that means is a linear response to risk, meaning that each drink increases a womans risk for breast cancer. So binge drinking, its not good for anybody, Dr. Comen said. And its also not good for a womans increased risk of breast cancer.

So, should you ditch the cocktails altogether? Dr. Comen advises for moderation.

Patients ask me this all the time, Well, how much can I drink? she said. If you want to have absolutely no risk from alcohol, then dont drink at all. But probably having less than four glasses a week of alcohol is probably OK.

Moreover, healthy food recommendations for cancer-related concerns can differ depending upon who you ask, but following old standbys for an overall healthy diet like incorporating more fruits and vegetables, whole grains and lean proteins while decreasing sodium and added sugar intake is a good place to start. Regardless, we recommend you talk with your doctor about what a healthy diet for cancer-related concerns should look like for you.

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Fast Food Addict Mom, 50, Joins A Weight Loss Class And Finds A Breast Lump: Losing 56 Pounds Caught My Cancer And Saved My Life! - SurvivorNet

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