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NOW READING Stage 3 Breast Cancer Survivor Shares Her Transformative Self-Care Advice
October 22, 2021

Stage 3 Breast Cancer Survivor Shares Her Transformative Self-Care Advice

These healing actions helped improve her quality of life.  Our hope is anyone going through a medical battle will experience the same benefits.


 

A breast cancer diagnosis and subsequent treatment assaults the entire being – body, mind, and spirit. From anxiety to physically withdrawing from the things that bring joy, each wave of the experience can leave you feeling weak – or even broken. 

 

From anxiety to physically withdrawing from the things that bring joy, each wave of the experience can leave you feeling weak – or even broken.

 

 

As we continue our efforts to bring you useful information during Breast Cancer Awareness month, we’re turning our attention toward several forms of self-care that can improve your quality of life as you battle cancer.

 

Some Feelings Are Inevitable … and Totally Normal

 

Remember feeling invincible or like you were the master of your own destiny? Uncertainty replaces those feelings when you’re diagnosed with cancer. Joy Puleo, M.A., PMA-CPT, founder of Body Wise Connections – a not-for-profit organization that works with newly diagnosed breast cancer patients – says that “as humans, we are as vulnerable to life events and accidents as we are to disease […] but nothing says vulnerability like cancer. Cancer demands we trust in something, someone, or some belief outside of ourselves,” including doctors and procedures. 

 

Healing Through Movement

 

For years, experts have espoused the value of fitness. Rather than recommending exercise, Puleo wants patients to concentrate on movement. “It could be Yoga, Pilates, or simply a walk around the neighborhood. Regardless of your movement preference, to move has proven, time and again, [to be] a potent way to cope, to grow, and to facilitate healing. Movement helps you feel your body’s strength and potential. It reminds you that even as your body hurts, or your mind is overwhelmed, or your spirit feels crushed, you can direct yourself toward health and well-being.”

 

Beautytap Expert Samantha Johnson
Beautytap Expert and Stage 3 Breast Cancer Survivor Samantha Johnson

 

The Strength of Simplicity

 

One of Beautytap’s Verified Experts, Samantha Johnson, described her diagnosis with Stage 3 invasive breast cancer as having her “whole life turned upside-down.” She had “always lived a healthy, plant-based lifestyle,” but knew she needed to “relax, meditate, and do breath exercises [to help her] mind and body through the early stages.” Caregivers and those dealing with other forms of cancer echo Samantha’s sentiments, recommending both zazen (seated) and kinhin (walking) meditation. Breathwork is the unifying factor, and Puleo explained that, “Simple movements which are breath-driven are the perfect place to start,” after surgery involving “the chest wall and the entire thoracic cavity. Breathing and gentle rhythmic movements become important for restoring tissue motility without compromising healing tissue.” 

 

Breathing Is Movement

 

If you’re not feeling up to a group class or even walking, Puleo suggests sitting with your eyes closed while focusing on your breath. “Even when we are still, our internal body is beating, pumping, flowing and moving because we are breathing.” With every inhalation, you’re improving your circulation, and with every exhalation, toxins leave the body. For Samantha, having the soothing scents of “lavender, peppermint, and sage” wafting from aromatherapy diffusers throughout her home helped keep her “calm and relaxed” as well.

 

Figure Eights and Spine Twists

 

“Mindful movement,” Puleo says, “stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system,” decreasing stress, improving sleep, and enhancing coping skills. It involves, “moving without judgement of self.” Here are two breath-driven movements Puleo suggests:

 

  1. Move your pelvis in a figure eight and allow your torso to move in reply.
  2. Move your spine with a simple side bend and twist.

 

Increase the Phytoestrogens in Your Diet

 

A heart-healthy diet rich in fresh fruits and vegetables as well as fiber and protein benefits everyone, yet one smoothie staple gets the seal of approval from researchers, surgeons, and breast cancer survivors, like Samantha. Flaxseeds are rich in omega-3 fatty acids and fiber, and studies have shown that they have an “antiestrogenic” effect by attaching to cell receptors, “thus inhibiting the growth of cancer cells.”  According to Dr. Heather Richardson, mastectomy surgeon and breast health expert at the Bedford Breast Center, “Eating 1 teaspoon of flaxseed per day can cut mortality by 40%.” Just remember to grind them up first since ground flaxseed has higher bioavailability.

 

 breast cancer.
Bedford Breast Center has compiled a list of 6 healthy lifestyle tips for women with breast cancer.

 

Don’t Forget Your Skin

 

Cancer sucks and so do the side effects. Switching to nourishing, moisture-rich products can alleviate topical symptoms, like skin sensitivity, and restore your glow. Choose soothing cleansers, like Botanical Republic’s Revive Gentle Emollient Cleanser. It’s rich in skin-balancing calendula, which staves off hormone-induced breakouts, as well as meadowfoam seed oil, a photoprotective ingredient that moisturizes skin, especially when used in tandem with skin protecting mango seed butter. 

 

K-beauty fans familiar with The Crème Shop will appreciate the skin healing properties of their sheet masks, which Samantha loves, as well as the transforming balm-to-water Pink Water Crème (one of my favorites) that contains healing allantoin and skin plumping hyaluronic acid. And if supplementing your body’s own cannabinoid system interests you, Samantha has successfully managed her pain with CBD instead of narcotics and also recommends hemp- and CBD-based skincare products, including the Glow Skin Serum from Moon Mother Hemp and Sugar & Kush’s CBD+CBG Infused Whipped Body Butter

 

Thankfully, Samantha’s cancer is in remission today, and she’s doing everything right. Check her out on Instagram! She’s a true warrior and a beautiful spirit.

Tracy Ann Teel is a full-time freelance writer and the owner of Finesse Writing and Editing LLC. She’s a tutorial writer for San Francisco Globe’s beauty platform, FierceLeague.com, covering everything from skin and hair care to makeup and nail art. She writes for skincare companies, dermatologists, and cosmetic surgeons, and proudly taught at her MFA alma mater, the University of California Irvine, as a member of their adjunct faculty in English. She’s been a textbook reviewer for Prentice Hall, been recognized three consecutive years in the Who’s Who Among America’s Teachers, and has written professionally for 30+ years. Her poetry chapbook Such Dust was published by Finishing Line Press, and her work has appeared in Alaska Quarterly Review, Rattle, Pearl, Kaleidoscope, and Lake Arrowhead Life.

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COMMENTS 4

elyciarubin

Grateful to Samantha for sharing her advice. A true warrior, yes!


tracyteel


Verified experts are beauty professionals who receive free products for independent reviews without receiving payment.

Samantha has one of the best attitudes I've encountered when talking with people about cancer. She's calm and centered, which is no small feat!

samkbeauty


Verified experts are beauty professionals who receive free products for independent reviews without receiving payment.

This warmed my heart Tracy!!! The article came out great, and thank you again for including me😁😁


tracyteel


Verified experts are beauty professionals who receive free products for independent reviews without receiving payment.

Oh, I'm so glad you like it! You're an inspiration on every level! Thank you so much for sharing some of your journey and advice with the community.