Survivorship Day, Nelson, New Zealand
On 16 May, I attended the inaugural breast cancer Survivorship Day organised by the Nelson Regional Breast Cancer Trust. This Trust is an incredible bunch of six people – a mixture of cancer specialists, survivors and supporters who get together and fundraise to provide support for breast cancer survivors in the Nelson region of New Zealand.
It was a magnificent day with around 100 participants – breast cancer survivors, a personal trainer, lingerie fitter, physiotherapists (lymphedema specialists) plus medical teams who work with breast cancer patients and survivors (such as nurses, medical oncologists, surgical oncologists).
The day had a fantastic buzz as survivors grouped together and shared their stories, solidarity and lots of fun. There were women of all ages and a few men scattered around (husbands, partners and medical people).
A day of sessions focused on survivorship. The majority of women do go on to survive breast cancer and after the interventions finish (if we are so fortunate for this to be the case), women are left with a range of issues to deal with (body, mind and soul).
Sessions targeted breast cancer rehabilitation, conquering the fear of recurrence, breast prostheses /lingerie options, management of menopausal symptoms and infertility, nourishment for growth and health, fitness, lymphedema and breast reconstructions.
I was lucky to be invited to speak and spoke on the topic of the impacts of breast cancer. I called the talk, changing tracks – how breast cancer is one of those events that forces you to change from one life track to another. That there are many negative impacts of breast cancer but for many of us, positives have come through (though often not at the time of going through treatment). For example, feeling stronger in ourselves, living life more fully and appreciating the time we have left to live.
A copy of a survivorship passport was given to all attendees. I wrote this passport (attached) and it provides many of my tips on how to survive and move on from breast cancer.
Download your free copy of the Survivorship Passport!
Top tips on Survivorship from the conference:
- The goal of survivorship is quality lives for many years to come
- Get as close as possible to your normal weight (BMI). It is challenging for some of us but is one of the top things you can do to prevent recurrence
- Diet and nourishment. Eat many fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Be careful to not over eat for non-hungry reasons
- Focus on nourishment not diet. Nourishment is body mind and soul. Eat for fuel and nourishment.
- Most snacks should be fruit and vegetables
- Alcohol. No more than seven drinks per week
- Exercise – at least three times per week
- Exercise can help with chemo-brain and fatigue. Numeric puzzles are good for memory
- If you’re younger than 40, a mammogram is not helpful but MRI may be
- Lymphedema is reversible if picked up early. Do not use soap under the arm if you have had lymph nodes removed there. For that arm, massage needs to be as soft as stroking a cat
A good example of daily nourishment/nutrition
Morning tea apple
Lunch wholegrain sandwich with cottage cheese and vegetables
Afternoon tea yogurt
Dinner Oven baked fish with stir fried broccoli/ cauliflower, with brown rice