Breast cancer runs in my family. Both my mother and my grandmother (her mother) had it. Now, my grandma will be celebrating her 90th birthday in the coming weeks. She’s always lived a very healthy lifestyle and when I was a young child she looked after me and, along with my parents, made sure that I had the best start possible in life health-wise. They were meticulous about family nutrition. My mother passed away almost a decade ago, but not from cancer. So they were both fighters and survivors against this disease. I am determined to prevent myself from ever getting cancer in the first place.
When I was in my 20’s the standard advice for women with a family history of breast cancer was to go and get a baseline mammogram before 30 and then to have annual mammograms starting at around 35. I’d never even heard of thermography back then so off I went to a breast specialist for a mammogram. They found nothing and I filed the report away for later. Then last year I saw an article somewhere on thermography and how this amazing technology can actually help you to monitor your breasts for cellular changes years in advance. Being a staunch advocate of preventative medicine, I was curious and filed it away as an alternative for my 35 year mammogram. Because some of the news coming out now about the potential for mammograms to actually contribute to breast cancer is pretty alarming.
This is not to say that thermography can completely replace mammography as a detection tool. But I am not at the stage where I need another one yet. I was at my acupuncturist’s office the other day when I saw a flyer for thermography. Originally I wasn’t even going to do it so soon but I decided to do some further research and discovered that it’s ideal to have a baseline thermograph done in your 20’s. I quickly called to book an appointment.
The thinking behind thermography emerged from Hippocrates, who used to cover his patients in mud and use the areas that took longer to dry as a starting point for further examination. The idea is that areas of concern will be warmer in temperature than those that are benign. The thermography equipment takes the temperature of the area being scanned and then produces an image with temperature readings, which are then read and analyzed by a doctor. The objective is to find thermal variations and abnormalities. Ideally these can be looked at over time to find patterns of cellular dysfunction and alert patients to pre-cancerous cells and inflammation. In the event of an abnormal thermogram, changes can be made such as diet, lifestyle, herbs or supplements and the situation can be monitored until further intervention is required. When a person finally feels a lump, it has likely been growing for ten years.
In the days leading up to my appointment I was provided with some guidelines, such as not to use lotion or powder on the area and not to shave or sunbathe on the day, not to eat or drink coffee a few hours before, etc. I completed a questionnaire about my breasts, my health and family medical history, which was useful for the report and my file. Immediately prior to the thermogram being taken I sat with my thermographic technician and talked a little about thermography and my history. It is necessary to sit in a cold room for some time before the procedure begins. Soon it was time to take the pictures.
Unlike a mammogram, the thermographic equipment doesn’t touch you at all during the imaging procedure. There is no radiation so you can have as many of these done as you can afford with no side effects. The procedure itself is like a topless photo shoot, except it all takes place in the dark. I had to lift my arms into different positions and lean back, turn my swivel stool from side to side and then we were finished. The whole thing took about 15 minutes once I had sat in the cold room for a little while.
Afterwards we took a quick peek at my images and then the report took another week. I returned to discuss the findings with my technician, Angel. As I had already noticed on the day of my thermogram, there was a pretty angry looking arch across the top of my left breast. The area visible at the top of my abdomen was also hotter than I would like to see. Granted, I’d started my MTHFR detox and taking methylated vitamins a couple of weeks before…maybe stuff was just moving around? It’s too soon to tell. I need to continue my diet and lifestyle changes over the next few months and return for another thermogram. We need to see whether the “hot” areas are growing. The report noted that the thermal patterns in both breasts are “consistent with fibrocystic changes,” which is significant. This is now on my radar and I need to take action.
Angel then became an ally, helping me prepare a plan of action. First, I need to work on lymphatic stagnation and blockage. Hopefully getting my methylation going more effectively is going to help with this. Acupuncture also helps with detoxification and stress reduction and I do that once a week. Second, I was advised to start every day with hot lemon water, sipping it within 15 minutes of waking. I love this ritual now because it gives me space between my thyroid medication and my coffee (the latter inhibits absorption of the former). Third, I will be dry brushing my skin daily. This is a technique that I’ll discuss in full in my next post. Finally, I need to make adjustments to my diet and environment to focus on preventative health. As I’ve been documenting here, I am taking a number of steps to live as toxin-free as possible. I have also cut back my meat intake and always look for antibiotic and hormone free meats when I do eat them. Hopefully these will help.
I am also awaiting the results of some testing for a number of things that may also be contributing to my inflammation and some other symptoms I’m experiencing, like tinnitus. I am waiting on hormone tests, which may tell me whether I am estrogen dominant, which I know was a factor in my mother’s cancer. Progesterone cream could help with this. So there is quite a long way to go yet to getting my body to optimum health. I’ll be returning for a follow-up thermogram in a few months to see whether I need to get more aggressive with my areas of high heat. I will, of course, be sure to keep you updated with my progress.
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