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Welcome to the DebiLyn Smith blog site. If you like what you read here, check out her website at

Sunday, November 20, 2011

"E" is for EEEKKK in The Alphabetical Cancer Prevention Series

EEEEEEKKKKKKKKK! It's Sunday and I not only don't have the blog done for this week, but am on holidays next week as well.
"E" is for Exercise, and I am exercising my right to I.O.U. the blog until December 4th.

Tonight I have company that helped cheer on the BC Lions to win the Western Finals.Dinner is over as is the game and I excused myself to fill you in on the excitement in my life.

The win tonight means we get to watch the BC Lions live on the 27th as they play the Winnipeg Blue Bombers for the Grey Cup. We bought tickets months ago, hoping but not sure if BC would be playing. It's a dream come true! We watched the Lions beat the Montreal Alloettes in 2006 in Winnipeg and we would be ecstatic to see them do it again in 2011 right in Vancouver. Watch for me- I'll be holding a bright orange sign saying "We Believe" on it.

I'll also be having my second breast MRI while in Vancouver. If this one comes up clean, I think I will finally be able to relax a bit. I'm having a uterine scope done with a camera December 13th which will also get me over the anxiety hurdle I've been stuck on. I seem to have lost all faith that I am well. These tests will give it back to me.
But while we wait for results, we will be whooping it up in Vancouver and Victoria with friends, eating well, cheering and having the best of times, all without a sip of alcohol for me. I don't even think that's strange anymore, or even worry that it won't be any fun. I am PUMPED and ready to rock on for the Lions!

I'll be back in December. Until then, be well, be safe and think before you drink too much.

Monday, November 14, 2011

"D" is For Dairy In The Alphabetical Cancer Prevention Blog Series

This week's food blog is: "D" is for Dairy:
To eat dairy products or not is such a huge debate between health food magazines and dairy farmers. When I found out I had breast cancer, the nutritionist advised I skip the 4 glasses of skim a day and try to avoid dairy products.  He said there were dangerous growth hormones and antibiotics in milk and so, sadly I took up the torturous path of trying to find substitute rice and soy cheeses. Suffice to say they all tasted like ...well, not like cheese to say the least!
Recently, Cracker Barrel cheese has been running commercials that state their products are hormone and anti-biotic free because they are made from good old Canadian cows. What the heck did that mean and how did it affect me, I wondered.
When it comes to dairy and breast cancer, be grateful that you live in a country as health conscious as Canada instead of in the United States where manufactured hormones may have been injected into the cow.
 Dairy cows in the rest of the world (except EU, Canada, Japan, Australia and New Zealand) are allowed to inject their cows with a recombinant Bovine Growth Hormone (rBGH) which stimulates growth production up to 10 times the  normal rate.. The use of this hormone causes a large upsurge in udder mastitis and lameness which means antibiotics also have to be used on the cows.
 But by far the largest controversy is the milk from cows that have been injected with genetically engineered rBGH  which contains 2 to 10 times IGF-1 (insulin-like growth factor) than normal cow's milk. This is significant, because studies have found the risk of prostate cancer for men over 60 years of age with high levels of IGF-1 to be eight times greater than for men with low levels. And the risk of breast cancer for premenopausal women with increased blood levels of IGF-1 to be up to seven times greater. 
Consultants paid by Monsanto, the rBGH manufacturer, say that milk from injected cows is absolutely safe for human consumption because IGF-1 is destroyed by pasteurization. FDA researchers, on the other hand, report that IGF-1 is not destroyed by pasteurization. 

Monsanto also says the hormone is safe because IGF-1 is completely broken down by digestive enzymes and does not enter the human intestinal tract. But researchers not paid by Monsanto say that IGF-1 may not be totally digested, and that some does make its way into the colon and cross the intestinal wall into the bloodstream. 
So I am glad to say that I am a proud Canadian and back to eating a bit of cheese, yogurt and sour cream (if they have been made from good old Canadian cows). I'm still using almond milk on my morning oatmeal though because if you have read any of the Health Food magazines, they say that drinking any milk from an animal just isn't a natural thing to do. When you think about it, what other animal continues to consume milk long after infancy? Not only milk, but milk intended for babies of that species?
Like everything else in life, I think the key is moderation. Unless you are lactose intolerant, some dairy in your life is probably not going to harm you. Drinking gallons of milk a day might not be advisable- growth hormones or not.

"D" is for Detection in The Alphabetical Cancer Prevention Series

The following blog on Breast Self Examination (BSE),  was going along fine, until I went to my faithful Wikipedia, which surprised me to read the following:

BSE was once promoted heavily as a means of finding cancer at a more curable stage, but large randomized controlled studies found that it was not effective in preventing death, and actually caused harm through needless biopsies and surgery.
Breast awareness is an informal alternative to structured breast self-examinations.According to a meta-analysis in the Cochrane Collaboration, two large trials in Russia and Shanghai found no beneficial effects of screening by breast self-examination "but do suggest increased harm in terms of increased numbers of benign lesions identified and an increased number of biopsies performed." They concluded, "At present, screening by breast self-examination or physical examination cannot be recommended."[1]
Although breast self-examination increases the number of biopsies performed on women, and thus revenue for the breast cancer industry, it does not reduce mortality from breast cancer. In a large clinical trial involving more than 260,000 female Chinese factory workers, half were carefully taught by nurses at their factories to perform monthly breast self-exam, and the other half were not. The women taught self-exam detected more benign (normal or harmless lumps) or early-stage breast disease, but equal numbers of women died from breast cancer in each group.[2]
I only know that in my case, a self discovered lump in my left breast was reason enough to be sent for more tests which resulted in finding a  cancerous lump  in the right breast that was never felt by self-examination. My girlfriend, a doctor who has female clinics, strongly suggests that women self examine. I still perform BSE monthly.If you want to know more about it, keep reading:

  • In 2010, an estimated 23,200 women in Canada will be diagnosed with breast cancer, an increase of (500) from 2009. On average, 445 Canadian women will be diagnosed with breast cancer every week.
  • Estimated number of new cases of breast cancer in females by age:

    • 6,600 breast cancer cases diagnosed in women 70+

    • 5, 800 breast cancer cases diagnosed in women 60-69

    • 6,200 breast cancer cases diagnosed in women 50-59

    • 3, 500 breast cancer cases diagnosed in women 40-49

    • 950 breast cancer cases diagnosed in women under the age of 40  
 Those numbers should concern anyone who has breasts. It's getting scary out there! Take heart. Nothing gives you a better chance of beating breast cancer than early detection can. While self examination, mammograms, thermal imaging and MRI's are not actually preventive measures for the disease,  they can prevent the ultimate worst outlook for a patient, which is losing their life.

If breast cancer is found at an early stage there is usually a better chance of successful treatment. Finding cancer early may also allow for more treatment options such as less aggressive treatment or breast conserving surgery.

Breast screening is the regular examination of a woman’s breasts to detect breast cancer  when she has no signs or symptoms of breast problems.

Two common methods of breast screening are:

Although not a screening method, something you can do on your own is to be breast aware. Being breast aware means knowing how your breasts normally look and feel. That way, if there are any significant changes, you'll be more likely to notice them and can have them checked by a doctor. 

Still, it is possible for breast cancer to develop without any changes that can be easily noticed, which is why breast screening with mammograms or other methods are so important. 

The most common symptom of breast cancer is a new lump or mass. A mass that is painless, hard, and has irregular edges is more likely to be cancerous, but breast cancers can be tender, soft, or rounded. They can even be painful. For this reason, it is important that any new mass, lump, or breast change is checked by a health care professional with experience in diagnosing breast diseases.
Other possible signs of breast cancer include:
Lump. A lump or hard knot in the breast or armpit
Lumpy area. Bumpiness or unusual thickening that doesn’t go away after your period
Pain.Pain in  one spot that’s not associated with your period
Swelling. Swelling, warmth, redness or darkening
Size and shape. One breast might become larger or lower than the other
Skin texture. Puckering or dimpling of the skin
Appearance or direction of nipple. One nipple might become inverted (turned in)
Discharge. Nipple excretes a blood-stained liquid (in one or both breasts)
Rash or crusting. An itchy sore or scaling area on or around the nipple

Sometimes a breast cancer can spread to lymph nodes under the arm or around the collar bone and cause a lump or swelling there, even before the original tumor in the breast tissue is large enough to be felt. Swollen lymph nodes should be reported to your doctor.
Unusual lumps found in the breasts often turn out to be cysts or fat necrosis, which are no threat to your health. But remember, it’s important to talk to your doctor if you notice anything unusual .It could save your life.

For more information on how to self examine your breasts, watch this quick, very informative video at:
If you're interested in getting a monthly reminder to self-examine, go to this site:

To BSE or not, it's up to you. The more aware we are of our bodies, the better, when it comes to our health.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

"C is for Carcinogens and(a Lovely Bunch of") Coconuts

The Alphabetical Breast Cancer Prevention Series
“C” Is For Carcinogens  and Coconuts

A carcinogen is something that causes or produces cancer. Cut and dried. I once told my husband he was a carcinogen after he managed to once again make smoke come out of me ears. I consider anything that makes me upset like that cancer causing. It's called Stress. But the truth is, stress alone can't cause cancer. It's all the other bonafide pollutants that will get you first.

Top carcinogens include tobacco, asbestos, alcohol, acid mists, Hepatitis  B&C, coal-tar, soot, solar radiation, sunlamps and sunbeds, Tamoxifen (an anti-cancer drug I just happen to be on), wood dust, ultraviolet radiation and x-rays.

Carcinogens accumulate in fatty tissues. Breasts, unfortunately, are made up of, mostly, fatty tissues. The average woman comes into contact with innumerable carcinogens and toxins daily, from the soaps she washes with to the makeup she uses, not to mention pesticide residues, smoke and exhaust fumes, solvents, and cleaning compounds.

You can help cut down the exposure and thus the risk of these carcinogens collecting and accumulating enough to kick-start a cancer problem by doing lots of little things.

The next time you go to buy a bottle of shampoo or conditioner, reach for something natural. Try Burt’s Bees or the Live Clean series which is pure vegan, eco-friendly and made from certified organic botanicals. Use Garnier pure clean styling gels and ammonia free hair dyes and beauty products.

 I became a Norwex salesperson recently because I am trying to switch over to their chemical-free house cleaning solutions. They have microfiber cloths with silver in them that you simply wet with water and wipe to kill 99.9% of all the germs they come into contact with. Clean your entire house with water: the floors, bathroom, walls, sinks and counters. When your house smells like a cleaning agent it's because that agent has left a residue on whatever it was you cleaned. How clean is that?
 If you want to know more about it, let me know!

Of course, it's not easy to quit smoking, but if anything will kill you, it's tobacco. It's a real no-brainer. And as we learned, our breasts accumulate carcinogens. They store them up, waiting for whatever level is enough for them to kick off a cancer growth. So that means your "odd cigarette" you have only when you're out drinking is remembered. Not by you, but by your boob. Go figure. Brainy boobs. They keep count of your drinks, your smokes, your falls, everything that can damage cells.

 More tips are to eat much less char-broiled foods (up there with the soot-factor I figure). Avoid the “fake and bake” booths before you head south this year. Use a self-tanner by a reputable company like Arbonne. 
Wear sunscreen always. And avoid having x-rays done if possible. I’ve had 2 CT scans in the past year- which has given me the same amount of radiation most people would get in four years. All in the name of trying to survive my breast cancer diagnosis. Does this make sense to anyone? Yes, we needed the information the CT scans gave us before we could proceed, but getting rid of one cancer by giving a patient something that could cause another cancer still mystifies me.

 Let’s not even go to the Tamoxifen issue! As I write this, I have a biopsy scheduled for December 13 in Terrace to see if the Tamoxifen is causing ovarian cancer, like it can. I have been dealing with daily cramping of the uterus area for months now. Like Japanese water torture, it never lets up. Good thing stress can't cause a cancer. Although it will help a cancer to grow once it starts.

Your best bet is to use your common sense and try to keep life as organic and healthy as possible.  Don’t get x rays every time you see the dentist if you don’t need to. Don’t have mammograms more than is recommended. And if you do have to have x rays, try to de-tox yourself immediately after. Soak in a warm bath of sea salt and baking soda or sit in an infra red sauna for 30 minutes. If nothing else, your skin will feel nice and soft after.

Our Food Topic This week is “C” for Coconuts.

Listed in the Top 10 Super Foods (foods that have a dozen or more unique healthy properties), coconuts can save your life. Used as alternative blood plasma during war times, coconut milk, oil and cream from young coconuts has fifteen pages of benefits listed in David Wolfe’s Superfoods: The Food and Medicine of the Future.It says that coconut oil, due to its complete saturation,  is  superior to olive oil for cooking and can withstand being heated up to 170F. Coconut oil is a healing oil containing immune system enhancing properties. It regulates hormone production, increases the body’s metabolism (which helps with weight loss) and supports cardiovascular health, to name only a few attributes.
Recommended is one to four tablespoons a day, used in salad dressings, stir-frys, baking or straight up. Look for it at your health food store.