“When women take care of their health, they become their best friend” – Maya Angelou
by Kathleen Richardson
Although Black women get breast cancer at a slightly lower rate than White women, Black women who are diagnosed with breast cancer are 42% more likely to die than White women. October is breast cancer awareness month and beyond the advice of self- examinations and mammography, it is important for Black women to become aware of the other ways in which they can begin to take control of their breast health.
Black women are the consummate nurturers. The quintessential core of the Black woman encompasses an unending love and devotion to the Black man, the Black child, and the Black community. The breast symbolizes nourishment, nurturing, motherhood, and responsibility to the family. Intimately connected to the womb, a woman’s breasts are a part of her life force. Given the Black woman’s sociohistorical role in American society, she has often been neglected, cast off and forgotten. This means she must do for herself what no one else can do.
Breast cancer is a glandular cancer, similar to prostate cancer. This means the exit point of the cells are clogged with tumor cells. The lymphatic system plays an important role in breast health. The lymphatic system is described as a natural cleansing and watering system. It is responsible for the clearing and removal of manmade toxins and foreign agents away from cells. There are lymph glands located in the armpits and the close to the breast- bone. Keeping the lymph glands in and near the breast free from toxins is important.
The Black woman must take her rightful place as self-healer. She can no longer pour from an empty cup. Here are 5 ways, the Black woman can protect, heal, and regenerate the health of her breasts.
Conventional deodorants and antiperspirants have very harmful chemicals such as parabens and aluminum that are absorbed into the bloodstream via the skin and can clog the glands in the armpits. Sweating is a natural bodily function used to remove waste from the body. Aluminum filled antiperspirants prevent the body from doing its job while also increasing the toxins in the body. Switching to a natural deodorant without any parabens or aluminum will keep the lymph glands free and clear of toxins. My personal favorite is using limes or lemons as a natural deodorant.
Dry brushing is one of the best ways to stimulate the drainage of the lymphatic system. When the breasts are dry brushed or even massaged, the toxins in the cells and glands are released and transported for removal. Dry brushing and massaging also removes excess estrogen from the glands which is believed to increase the risk of breast cancer.
Bras constrict the draining of toxins from the lymphatic system. They also cause pain, tenderness, cysts and possibly breast cancer. Avoid wearing bras when you don’t have to. And if you must, wear wireless or sports bras. I know this may be difficult because we want the “girls” to be at attention but baring very special events where a wire bra is necessary, it’s in the “girls” best interest to be free from any constricting undergarments.
4.Avoid/Eliminate Excess Estrogen from the Diet
Excess estrogen in the body may increase breast cancer risk. The body produces estrogen as needed. Much of the food we eat can disrupt the delicate hormonal balance of a woman’s body. The meat supply is often tainted with artificial growth hormones, sulfates, and genetically modified ingredients which produces an excess of estrogen in the body. Drinking a non-dairy milk and incorporating “Meatless Mondays” in the diet are great first steps to eliminate excess estrogen from the diet.
The Black woman must take her rightful place as self-healer. She must tap into the wisdom that is inherent in her DNA. Self-love and self-care must be the priority. She must understand that if she is not well, her family and community will not be well. She cannot nurture her children or loved ones if she does not first nurture herself. The airline industry has summed it up best, “secure your own mask first before assisting others.” And as Audre Lorde said, “I have come to believe that caring for myself is not self-indulgent. Caring for myself is an act of survival.”
To learn more about natural deodorants, dry brushing and removing excess estrogen from your diet, please visit melaninrichwellness.com