What I Learned from Breast Cancer

Julia Chiappetta chose a natural path to wellness after being diagnosed with breast cancer.

What I Learned from Breast Cancer
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8 Survival Tips

1 Do self-exams. Regular self-exams are the key to getting to know your breasts so you can more easily identify anything unusual. Perform self-exams within the first five days after your period ends, when breasts are most supple.

2 Trust your instincts. A mammogram is only about 70 percent accurate. That’s why it’s so important to do self-exams and insist on tests like ultrasound or biopsy if you feel they’re warranted.

3 Be proactive. Cancer is not a death sentence. According to the American Cancer Society, the five-year survival rate for localized breast cancer is 98 percent. Do your homework, don’t be afraid to ask questions, be your own best advocate.

4 Focus on the present. Deal with your current situation rather than let your fears get ahead of you.

5 Eat right. Build your meals around fresh organic vegetables (including broccoli, kale, and Brussels sprouts) and fruits (including avocado, berries, grapefruits, grapes, papayas, oranges, and tomatoes). Add nuts, seeds, and whole grains such as barley, quinoa, and couscous. Limit meat and dairy, and always look for brands that eschew hormones and antibiotics. Drink a cup or two of green or black tea or even hot cocoa for the antioxidants.

6 Exercise. The American Cancer Society recommends five 45-to-60-minute cardio sessions weekly. Ideally, you’d add two 45-minute strength-training sessions to build calorie-burning muscle and keep bones strong. Premenopausal women who do physical activities for leisure are as much as 23 percent less likely to develop breast cancer than couch-potato peers.

7 Talk to your doctor about supplements. Some companies make bogus claims like “helps switch on all three genes that inhibit cancer” and can actually be harmful. Take only FDA-approved supplements that are backed by research and okayed by your treatment team.

8 Get a second opinion. In addition to seeing a mainstream oncologist, look for credentialed health-care professionals who provide integrative care. Search for a naturopathic doctor at, and a practitioner of integrative health at