Thank you for joining me here on my Think Pink, Live Green column, where I’ll be addressing environmental impact on breast cancer risk from my new dual-citizenship perspective as the “patient doctor.” Let me explain.
You might be already familiar with my doctor role: as president and founder of Breastcancer.org and a practicing radiation oncologist with over 20 years experience treating patients with breast cancer. But what is new and strange is my patient role. I was diagnosed with an early-staged breast cancer this past April, which was detected by my annual mammogram. My treatment plan, consisting of surgery and hormonal therapy, was based on the unique extent and nature of the cancer, my complex family history, as well as my personal preferences and circumstances. I’m now recovering nicely, feeling strong, and regaining my usual optimism, drive, and determination.
Like you, I never want to see that damn cancer again. I’ve done essentially everything my doctors recommended, but it’s now up to me to make changes in my everyday life to become as healthy as possible. And as it turns out, there is a lot that we all can do to help lower the risk of recurrence or of ever being diagnosed with breast cancer in the first place.
Everything is on the table: what we eat, drink, breathe, take, and use from the kitchen, pantry, cleaning shelf, and medicine chest; how we handle stress, sleep at night, make reproductive choices, treat ourselves, and interact with others. All of these factors affect how our outside environment affects the inside environment within our bodies.
Sound like a big job? In fact, it’s going to take a movement, called Think Pink, Live Green, which is based in science, grounded in medicine, and will be delivered in clear terms with easy-to-follow strategies. We’re certainly not starting from scratch. Think Pink, Live Green represents the results of a research project I’ve been working on for two years with Dr. Joan Ruderman of Harvard Medical School, identifying emerging environmental factors that can potentially contribute to the risk of breast cancer.
The first educational program of Think Pink, Live Green is this expert column on Breastcancer.org, with effective and practical information and tips on things like choosing the safest sunscreens and cosmetics, buying organic at the grocery store, and what cleaning and household products are safe to use. We know far from everything – but we know enough to have serious concerns about using various products and making different lifestyle choices.
I want to paint a realistic view about what is in our daily power to do, taking into account time, financial, and other constraints. My column will make the most sensible and responsible recommendations and suggestions based on what we know so far and our best judgment. The information and guidance will draw upon my experience as a physician and educator, mother and wife, as well as household manager, shopper, dedicated foodie (only willing to sacrifice so much), budget juggler, multitasker, and peacekeeper. I will also draw from my new experience and perspective as a breast cancer survivor. Dr. Ruderman has her sleeves rolled up too, ready to help us understand the science. At this time we won’t know for sure what changes will matter most in each person’s life. There are no guarantees. But we are confident that all of us would prefer to be safe than sorry.
Think Pink, Live Green is probably the greatest and most ambitious program of my career and Breastcancer.org’s mission: the opportunity to protect many more precious lives worldwide and, at the same time, to protect the environment and future generations. To accomplish such high goals, we have to work together. You have my full commitment and I hope I have yours. Please join me as we discover things you can do to reduce your risk. You can follow Think Pink, Live Green right here on Breastcancer.org or catch updates on Facebook or Twitter. You can also sign up for our monthly column round-up emails to get this information in your inbox. I can’t wait to start working with you!
Thank you for your participation.
Marisa C. Weiss, M.D.
The Patient Doctor
President & Founder, Breastcancer.org