Thursday, October 18, 2007

Breast Cancer and Self-Care

"Breasts are the physical metaphor for giving and receiving. In ancient times they symbolized nature's abundance and nurturing qualities." Women's Bodies, Women's Wisdom

Recently I read an article about breast cancer in La Presse, a Montreal newspaper. One survivor said her top priority now is self-care, taking time for herself, making it a priority to put herself first.

How opposite this is to the messages I received growing up in a Christian household!

It seems to run counter to our very upbringing as women and mothers: taught to serve others and put their needs first, to make sure all is well with everyone else, often sacrificing meals, rest, small pleasures like reading, sewing or singing, to ensure this external 'peace' and wellness is there in a household.

However, it always backfires if your own tank is empty, running low on the fuel of self love and nurturance.

Dr. Christiane Northrup in her book, Women's Bodies Women's Wisdom, has a chapter on Breasts and how to take care of them. Also, some important information about the message behind the physical symptoms.

"Approximately half of all women who go to doctors go because they have some kind of pain in their breasts. " She states that cyclic mastalgia or breast pain that comes and goes depending on the menstrual cycle is usually caused by excess hormones, excess caffeine or stress. It is not a risk factor for breast cancer.

She quotes a colleague who wonders why women have so much breast pain: "Have you noticed that men never complain about pain in their testicals, but that women are always complaining about pain in their breasts and even their ovaries? do you suppose it's because men know that if they complained, someone would want to cut into them?"

Dr. Northrup continues, "If women learned how their inner guidance is advising them through breast symptoms to give more time and energy to themselves, they might begin to appreciate their breasts in a different way."

Breast cancer is a sign that something is out of balance - probably toxins and pesticides contribute, birth control pills and estrogen replacement have been pointed at, our fatty diets don't help, even genetics play a part. Dr. Northrup gives a few case histories about women who made different decisions about treatments, but in the end, she points to the fact that a woman needs to take stock of her life, as well as whatever treatment she undergoes, to also do some inner reflecting, join a support group, and find out where in her life the balance of give and take needs adjusting.

What are your breasts saying to you, today? Don't wait for a major scare to pay attention.

Love them, handle them with care, and listen to their message about self-care.

October is Breast Cancer month.

1 comment:

Diane O'Connor said...

Yes, yes, yes!! Christiane Northrup was on Oprah this week. She also said to spend time smiling into the heart and speaking kinds words to ourselves. The breasts are so connected to the heart.


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