New Year’s Resolutions for 2017 – Hit the Reset Button

Red Reset Button

Making a New Year’s resolution or hitting the reset button on a previous resolution is a positive way to begin 2017, especially after a life-changing event.

Each January, I make a New Year’s resolution along with millions of other Americans. I look forward to it because I enjoy setting goals for myself and then trying to achieve them. January marks the beginning of a new year giving me the impetus I need to decide on my resolution and then begin working towards keeping it.

One survey shows that although 45% of Americans usually make a New Year’s resolution only about 8% actually fulfill them.1 Does this mean we are a nation of losers, underachievers, or poor performers? No, it makes us human. We do not always finish what we set out to do and sometimes life throws us a nasty curveball when we are not looking.

My curveball was breast cancer.

I know this may sound crazy or silly, but making a New Year’s resolution for 2017 is an important milestone for me. It is a small but significant act demonstrating that instead of well-meaning medical receptionists running my life, I am in the driver’s seat again and I am free to make my own big and small decisions.

Maybe, making a New Year’s resolution can help you on your road to recovery.

No New Year’s Resolutions in 2015 and 2016

In January 2015, I was contemplating several New Year’s resolutions including greening my personal care products, ridding our yard of invasive plant species, or learning about sustainable clothing.

Then, a phone call from my doctor changed everything. I can still clearly remember her voice saying, “You have invasive breast cancer.” I am one of the fortunate people whose cancer was treatable.

Having cancer derailed all my plans. I did not make a New Year’s resolution in 2015 and in 2016; it was not even on my radar screen.

Now, I am well and grateful to be back at the helm of my life.

My New Year’s Resolution for 2017

For 2017, I am hitting the reset button on a previous New Year’s resolution, eating a healthy diet.

In previous years, I had made and kept a series of New Year’s resolutions involving diet and exercise. As 2015 began, I was eating a healthy diet and walking at least two miles a day. My weight was good for my height and my knees had thanked me for lessening their load a little. I was in top form; well, except I had breast cancer.

In a shockingly short amount of time after beginning chemotherapy, my good eating and exercise habits became impossible to maintain. At one point during treatment, I could only drink my meals (smoothies and milkshakes) or eat very soft foods like bananas (I hate bananas now), mashed potatoes, and ice cream. Walking for five or ten minutes was the best I could do.

Fast forward through surgery and radiation treatment, I began walking more each day. Now, I am back to walking two miles a day and I can hike up a mountain again but at a slower pace than before I had cancer.

Getting back to a healthy diet was a stumbling block for me. Although I began eating well-balanced meals as soon as I could, I also indulged my food whims and cravings. This resulted in eating far too many calories and sweets. My knees let me know they do not appreciate the extra weight.

My New Year’s Resolution for 2017 is to dust off my healthy eating resolution from years past. I have a slight advantage over other New Year’s resolution makers because since I have accomplished this one in the past, I know I can do it again.

Your New Year’s Resolution for 2017

If you are recovering from your own life-changing event, maybe making a New Year’s resolution can help you start 2017 off in a positive way, too. Or, try hitting the reset button on a previously unfulfilled New Year’s resolution that you want to accomplish.

For readers who would like some help on establishing a realistic New Year’s resolution, consider reading the post entitled, New Year’s Resolution – Make it SMARTER. If you are interested in a green New Year’s resolution, there are links to several posts below that may give you some ideas.

Please encourage other readers by sharing your New Year’s resolution for 2017.

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References

  1. Statistic Brain – New Year’s Resolution Statistics, 12/11/16

Breast Cancer Awareness Month – Our Environment

Farm Worker Spraying Pesticide on Lettuce and Cabbage Crops

Imagine preventing the people we love and ourselves from getting breast cancer by ensuring our environment is clean and healthy. Expand that vision to all cancers.

This October, during Breast Cancer Awareness Month, I propose we look beyond the pink ribbons and feel good activities. Let us talk about the pink elephant in the room, the possible link between our environment and cancer.

Breast Cancer Risk

Throughout Breast Cancer Awareness Month, there is a deluge of articles and blog posts written to help you evaluate your breast cancer risk mostly by reviewing your genetics, family cancer history, and lifestyle choices (often referred to as environmental factors). Competing for space are advertisements for pink merchandise and reports on efforts to find a cure for cancer.

I am not against learning about breast cancer and ways to reduce risk, or pink ribbons (I am wearing one as I write this), or research to help people with cancer live happy and fulfilling lives. What bothers me is the emphasis on preventing cancer through personal choices.

“A person’s cancer risk can be reduced with healthy choices like avoiding tobacco, limiting alcohol use, protecting your skin from the sun and avoiding indoor tanning, eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, keeping a healthy weight, and being physically active.” —Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

This is good advice—for everyone.

Breast Cancer and the Environment

The thing is, while you are busy living your healthy lifestyle (which I am definitely for) you may be missing a crucial piece of the cancer causation puzzle—the environment. You, me, everyone is part of the environment and we depend on it for oxygen, water, food; a place to live, work, and play; for beauty and spirituality.

How does breathing polluted air, drinking contaminated water, eating food doused in pesticides; living, working, and playing in spaces made with and filled with toxic materials and being exposed to carcinogens just by walking around contribute to you or your loved ones getting cancer?

It is a complex issue requiring a lot more research. However, lack of research does not necessarily mean there is no problem.

  • Has anyone ever proven that spraying poison on food in the form of pesticides and herbicides is good for people’s health?
  • Has there been a scientific study showing that emissions from coal-burning power plants improve the condition of people’s lungs?
  • Is there peer-reviewed research demonstrating that the unpronounceable ingredients in cosmetics are safe and improve life expectancy?

It seems to me that a clean and healthy environment on planet Earth is crucial for each one of us to be healthy, happy, and cancer free.

Breast Cancer Awareness Month – Call to Action

Okay, so now perhaps you are willing to consider that our environment may be contributing to the possibility of you and / or your loved ones getting cancer. So what can you do about it?

Take action.

First, eat your fruits and vegetables, be physically active, and get enough sleep. There is no downside to living a healthy lifestyle!

Become Informed

Read the ingredients on your favorite snack package or preferred shampoo brand bottle. Then go look up the ingredients on the Internet. Do you still want to eat that or wash your hair with it? Do this repeatedly. Involve your kids and everyone can learn something.

Make your Voice Heard

Write a letter or e-mail to your congressperson, the mayor of your town, or the President of the United States letting him or her know you are concerned about cancer and how our environment might be contributing to it. Government agencies track issues of concern to their constituencies and data can be a powerful tool.

Hit the Streets

Join a group of people in your community who are working on something important to you. Do you worry about pesticide residue on the lettuce you buy at the grocery market? Are you losing sleep over the expansion of a natural gas fracking operation near your home or your child’s school? Are you concerned about pollution in a favorite stream or lake? Locate a group via your friends, family, coworkers, web browser or social media.

For my action, I am doing some research.

In his, National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, 2016 Presidential Proclamation, President Obama announced the White House Cancer Moonshot Task Force, which is striving to make a decade’s worth of progress in preventing, diagnosing, and treating cancer in just 5 years. I want to find out if and how the environment is being included in this national cancer research project.

What are you doing? Share your Breast Cancer Awareness Month action with other readers.

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Breast Cancer Awareness Month – Complacency

pink-ribbon-for-breast-cancer-awareness

What do you feel when you read, “1 in 8 women will get breast cancer in her lifetime?” I feel fear and outrage! We need to move beyond breast cancer awareness.

This year alone, hundreds of thousands of our mothers, daughters, sisters, nieces, grandmothers, wives, and girlfriends will be hearing the words, “You have breast cancer.” Men get breast cancer, too, so that means some of our fathers, sons, brothers, nephews, grandfathers, husbands, and boyfriends will be hearing the same message.

You may not realize this; there is no cure for cancer. Treating cancer means pumping poisons through your veins, cutting out or off parts of your body, and zapping yourself with radiation, in an attempt to force your cancer to go into remission. But, it may come back, meaning it was always there just waiting for a diagnostic procedure to identify it…again.

Breast Cancer Awareness Month

This October, as a newly minted breast cancer survivor, I have mixed feelings about Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

On the one hand, being aware that there is a problem is the first step in solving it. Making people aware that breast cancer is harming and killing hundreds of thousands of women and men seems like a good thing.

On the other hand, while we are participating in walk-a-thons, shopping for pink coffee mugs, and donating money to breast cancer charities, people with cancer are struggling through horrendous treatment regimes and sometimes dying.

Googling “breast cancer awareness month” gave me results from a wide variety of websites including the National Breast Cancer Foundation, American Cancer Society, Susan G. Komen®, Breastcancer.org, Centers for Disease Control, and the White House.

Interspersed with ads for pink everything is solicitations for donations. On one website, you can shop by cancer type (that is just creepy). Another site is giving away Free Breast Health Guides, but only if you enter your name and email address (so they put your contact information in their database and probably sell it). Then there is my favorite, “Support Breast Cancer Awareness Month in Style with 10 Fashion Finds.”

Breast Cancer Complacency

“Despite our decades-old war on cancer, women today are much more likely to develop breast cancer than any previous generation.” —Silent Spring Institute

Before my own breast cancer diagnosis in 2015, I participated in Breast Cancer Awareness Month by pinning on a pink ribbon, buying a pink Raiders baseball cap, and writing October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. I cringe now when I read it. Below are the first two sentences.

“What do the White House and the National Football League have in common? They are both looking pink in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month.”

How could I have been so complacent? Going through cancer treatment is a horrific experience and some people suffer through it and then die anyways.

Today, I am a different woman than the one who wrote that post. I am feeling both grateful to be alive and outraged at our society. We seem to accept that some people will get cancer and we willingly pour billions of dollars into the cancer industry in hopes that they will receive treatment and not die.

Imagine if we focused on preventing the people we love and ourselves from getting cancer in the first place.

In the next post, we will be exploring how our environment affects our ability to prevent people from getting cancer.

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