“Everyone has two choices. We’re either full of love… or full of fear.“Albert Einstein
Say the two words “breast cancer” and what do you feel? Fear right? It is a rare human being that has not been touched by the fear and devastation that the word cancer brings to families. But there is another way, and that is through education, understanding, faith, empowerment, support, and connection, because the body responds to love, gentleness and kindness. It does not respond well to fear.
Although I have never had a breast cancer diagnosis, I want to share with you my experience of how I transformed my fear into love in the hope that it may help others.
My mother was the first family member to be diagnosed with breast cancer in 1995 when she was 56. She was well ahead of her time, opting for natural approaches in combination with conventional treatments later in her journey. Sally inspired me to pursue nutrition and later nutrigenomics – the impact of diet and lifestyle on genetic expression – when my family history unravelled, losing three family members to breast cancer.
In 2012 I discovered that I inherited a variation in the BRCA2* cancer protection gene that suppresses tumours in breast, ovarian and other tissues. When this gene is faulty these tissues are more susceptible to cancerous changes. The risks are considerable; 45% of women with BRCA 2 gene will develop breast cancer before age of 70. Overall I have a 30-60% lifetime risk of developing breast cancer (CancerAustralia).
The statistics are frightening. But something is missing in this picture. DNA is not destiny. Genes are just the hardware. Choices, the environment in which we live, are the software that runs the program, the instructions that tell our cells what to do – make hormones, get rid of toxins, repair, create energy and all the thousands of different bodily processes that occur every second of the day.
In 2018, through smartDNA I received the results of my Genomic Wellness Test that cover over 150 + variations in specific genes, included in the test because the are researched to be clinically significant. I experienced the same feeling that I did when I received the results of a positive BRCA2 gene. Crushed, fearful, but still very much alive and well as far as I could tell. What I have learnt about feeding my genes I want to share with you.
After the initial shock of the results showing so many variations in my genome – suboptimal detoxification, methylation, inflammation, response to stress – I realised I had given myself a gift.
1) it explained a lot about my constitution and response to stress;
2) why I had a sugar addiction;
3) why despite a wholefood 80% organic diet I was still struggling with detox issues;
4) why my body was inflamed;
5) why I needed to be gentle and loving to myself.
Knowing my other genetic vulnerabilities apart from BRCA2, helped me to fine tune my food and supplements. Once I embarked on my own program it was like coming home to my body. Here is my own unique biochemical roadmap laid out for me and I could treat myself with care and kindness the same way I approached my patients.
85% of our risk of disease comes down to the choices we make. It’s powerful to know that the responsibility for our health and happiness ultimately rests with us and many of us have forgotten we have a choice. Just the simple act of giving thanks, being kind, feeds our genes every day. If I can support my daughters and others to know they have choices then I’ll feel I’ve fulfilled my purpose.
Breast cancer is not my destiny. Knowing how to care for my genes, feed them the right information so that can function fully, IS!
“The most important decision we make is whether we believe we live in a friendly or hostile universe.“Albert Einstein
*BRCA1 and BRCA2 are human genes that produce tumor suppressor proteins. These proteins help repair damaged DNA and, therefore, play a role in ensuring the stability of each cell’s genetic material. When either of these genes is mutated, or altered, such that its protein product is not made or does not function correctly, DNA damage may not be repaired properly. As a result, cells are more likely to develop additional genetic alterations that can lead to cancer.
National Institute of Heath US