The effects of breast cancer on a woman’s body!

Breast Cancer!


My mother of 63 years was diagnosed with breast cancer 4 years ago. Because of this and the fact that it can also happen to me, this subject is very close to my heart.


Symptoms of Breast Cancer.

My mother had no other symptoms except for the lump she felt in her right breast. It sounds strange, but she was lucky to feel a lump because some lumps are too small to feel or to cause a change in a breast. This is the dangerous part, not fighting breast cancer in time before it can do irreversible harm to your body.


The first sign of breast cancer is normally a lump that was not there before or a mass in the breast that you or your doctor can feel. Unfortunately a lump that is painless, hard and has uneven edges is more likely to be cancer. Also keep in mind that these changes to a breast can also be less serious and not cancerous like an infection or a cyst.


This is why it is very important for a woman to go for a mammogram (x-ray of the breast) once a year, especially after the age of 40 years. Any abnormal area can be seen on a mammogram


The following are also symptoms of breast cancer.

  • Breast pain
  • Nipple pain or the nipple turning inward
  • The nipple discharging other fluids than breast milk
  • Redness or thickening of the nipple or breast skin
  • A lump in the underarm area
  • Swelling of all or part of the breast
  • Skin irritation or dimpling on the breast



What causes breast cancer?

After a lot of research and research still under way, it is still very difficult for doctors to determine the cause of breast cancer and how to prevent it. Why it happens to one woman and not the other.

Doctors are learning day by day how external and internal environments affect breast cancer.

External environment for example the water you drink and food you eat, the air you breathe, the medicines you take and whether you smoke or not.

Internal environment for example the genes you got from your parents, hormones and illnesses.


Whether external or internal, some of these factors have a direct effect on breast cancer.


Let met explain to you two factors that are commonly used when referring to or talking about breast cancer.

Firstly the risk factor: Anything that would increase your chance of getting breast cancer, is known as the risk factor.

The protective factor: Anything that could reduce your risk of getting breast cancer, is known as the protective factor.


How can I reduce my risk of getting breast cancer?

Some risk factors you can control, for example:

Ø       Being overweight. It is very important to loose the excess weight. This can reduce your risk of getting breast cancer, especially for woman after menopause. Why? Because fatty tissue is the body’s main source of estrogen after menopause. This happens after the ovaries stop producing hormones. Always remember higher estrogen levels, increases your risk of getting breast cancer.

Ø       Make your own informed choices about the medicines you take. Always do research, educate yourself about the side effects.

Ø       Have control over your physical activities and alcohol consumption. Alcohol drunk by women limit’s the liver’s ability to control blood levels for the hormone estrogen, which can increase the risk of cancer.

Ø       Do exercise. There is growing evidence that shows that exercise can reduce the risk of breast cancer.

Ø       Taking combined hormone replacement therapy namely estrogen and progesterone for several years or taking estrogen alone for an ongoing period of ten years without any doubt is a very high risk factor for breast cancer, because the female hormone, estrogen already stimulates breast cell growth.

Ø       Be careful when using oral contraceptives for an unlimited time. Studies show that this birth control pill slightly increases the risk of breast cancer.


Which risk factors do I have no control over?

Ø       Being a woman. Although breast cancer can also be present in men, the breast cells of women are always changing and growing because of the female hormones estrogen and progesterone.

Ø       Aging. From the age of 30-39 the risk of getting breast cancer is 43%.It increases by more that 4% after the age of 60 years of age.

Ø       Breast cancer history in your family. If your mother or sister had breast cancer or ovarian cancer before the age of 50 years, your risk of getting breast cancer is higher.

Ø       Radiation therapy to the chest. Any radiation therapy during childhood especially during the teen years when the breasts were still developing, increases the breast cancer risk.

Ø       Changes in breast cells, during a breast biopsy can be a risk factor. Biopsy is the removal of tissue for examination under a microscope.


The fear of breast cancer recurrence!

My mom will be finishing her cancer hormone treatment this year. Since she was diagnosed with breast cancer 4 years ago, she has been going for mammogram’s yearly as well as blood tests.  All this tests needs to be done to make sure that the breast cancer will not be coming back and if so, to get the necessary treatment in time.


This is a fear my mom has been living with since the day she got informed that she had breast cancer and even after she had her mastectomy and was cleared, she still has this fear of the cancer recurring.


If breast cancer comes back, it may come back in the same place or in different areas of the body, for example:

v      the chest wall

v      the liver

v      the brain

v      the lymph modes

v      the bones

v      the lungs or around the lungs

v      the breast or the area where the breast used to be.


Just to get more scientific, here’s a list of the 3 general locations. This is the words that a doctor will use when explaining your type of breast cancer recurring:

Local: meaning in the breast where it started the first time, the area where the breast used to be or in the skin and underlying tissues.

Regional: means in the lymph nodes next to the breast. After diagnosed with breast cancer this will also be the first place where tests will be done to establish whether the cancer had not spread to the lymph nodes under the arms.

Metastatic: meaning in another part of the body, like the lungs, liver etc.


How to cope with the fear or recurring breast cancer.

Ø       Always stay informed, keep on reading, investigate tests, procedures and treatments done and following up information regarding breast cancer. The more informed you are, I think, will somewhat undermine your fear.

Ø       Have a great relationship with your doctor. You must feel comfortable discussing your situation and your feelings with this doctor whenever your feel like it.

Ø       Always, always stay calm and positive, even if it is difficult to do so every day. You will without knowing it transform your positive thoughts into positive energy. Trust me, you will feel better.

Ø       Join a cancer group that knows how you are feeling. In this group you can exchange stories and find solutions. Nobody else will know exactly how you feel, except for that other person that has gone through the same trauma.




Looking after my child’s teeth!

My child’s teeth!

It is important to care for your child’s teeth from an early age. This will ensure your child growing up with healthy teeth and gums. This means even wiping your baby’s gums after feeding with a soft damp cloth in order to prevent bacteria build-up.

Three important issues to always remember when you think about your child’s teeth!

Ø       Regular visits to the dentist.

Ø       Your child’s diet, what your child should and should not eat. Keep away from sugary or acidic food and drinks.

Ø       Oral hygiene, when to brush teeth and how often. Teach your child from a young age to spit out toothpaste and not rinse with water. This will reduce the effect of fluoride.


Interesting facts about your child’s teeth!

Your child’s teeth start developing before birth. I child firstly gets milk teeth, thereafter permanent teeth.

Milk teeth.

A child’s milk teeth are important for speech, smile, eating and mostly for confidence. Looking after a child’s milk teeth will ensure the healthy development of the permanent teeth.

A child usually has 20 milk teeth by the age of three years, starting to come out through the gums at about six months of age. The last milk teeth will fall out by the age of 12 years.


Permanent teeth.

If you as a parent do not look after your child’s permanent teeth and teach them the right from wrong, these teeth might get damaged or even need to be removed. Unfortunately there are not another set of teeth to replace the ones lost.

From the age of six years your child’s permanent teeth will start to erupt and as an adult have 32 permanent teeth.


Cavities and your child’s teeth.

What is a cavity?

Cavities are holes in the teeth formed from germs, a more scientific word is bacteria, using the sugary foods that they eat, to form acid. This acid then eats away at the teeth.


How to stop cavities and bad teeth?

  • Brush teeth regularly to prevent the acid from eating away at teeth.
  • If your child is capable to do so, it is very important to teach them how to floss once a day.
  • Learn your child the importance of brushing teeth twice a day, in the morning and before bedtime.
  • Twice a year visits to the dentist are essential. You get children who are scared and traumatised of a dentist and are unable to sit quietly in the dentist chair. My child was one of those children. My dentist and I diarized two visits per year and my child’s teeth were checked, fixed and cleaned under anaesthetic at our local hospital up until the age of 7 years. Thereafter my child himself decided to go to the dentist office without being traumatized.
  • Avoiding sweets, fizzy drinks and between-meal snacks is good advice but much harder to do. Rather try teeth friendly snacks like fruits and vegetables.
  • Never put your baby to bed with a bottle of juice, only if it contains plain water.

If the liquid for example stays in contact with the child’s teeth for a long period of time, the sugars cause tooth decay.


What to use to clean your child’s teeth!

Toothpaste and a toothbrush.

You get special toothbrushes for babies as well as for growing children.

When your child is the right age, teach him/her to clean their teeth by applying small circular movements.

The mineral in our toothpaste is called fluoride. This fluoride strengthens the tooth enamel.


Older children can chew sugar-free gum after meals, gum containing Xylitol, because this prevents tooth decay.


For a small child you get disclosing tablets. This is small pills, if chewed for 30 seconds, turn the plaque into a bright colour, usually pink. This will help show your child the areas that he/she have been missing when brushing.


Does your child have asthma?


What is Asthma and how would I know if my child has asthma?


The majority of people are unaware of the symptoms of asthma.

When a child for example has a constant cough, it normally gets associated with flu, especially if there is no history of asthma present in the family.

Asthma can be genetically inherited.

  • Coughing is normally a symptom that is commonly overlooked.
  • Frequent colds or chestiness may also be asthma related.
  • A child with a weak chest may also be asthmatic.


Asthma is one of the world’s most common respiratory illnesses in the world today.

It affects one out of ten children out of every twenty adults.

At any stage of your life, ever as an adult, asthma can start, but it normally starts at the age of 5 years. Asthma is most commonly  the result of an allergic reaction.


I am speaking out of experience when I tell you that it is not a nice feeling when your child gets diagnosed with asthma. Asthma is always the last condition thought about by a parent.


Causes and triggers of asthma!


  • Allergens or pollutants, like preservatives and colorants. This is a less common trigger, but it does exist.
  • Environmental pollutants like cigarette smoke or pollen can trigger asthma symptoms.
  • Outdoor pollutants from motor cars and factories also trigger asthma.
  • Allergy to other products for example milk products can trigger asthma.
  • The most common trigger is a cold and flu.
  • The weather like cold air can trigger asthma.
  • Doing exercise can not trigger asthma, but is very dangerous for a child having asthma as the symptoms are not being controlled. With the collect medication and control methods, any exercise can be performed.
  • An infection in the breathing tubes because if a virus, can either start or make the asthma symptoms worse. This asthma condition can persist for even 6 weeks after infection.
  • Emotions for example anger and rage can trigger an asthma attack.
  • Some common used medication like aspirin and other anti-inflammatory meds can trigger asthma.


The most common asthma symptom!



  • It reoccurs constantly and is persistent.
  • Coughing always occur in spasms and can result in the child loosing his or her breath.
  • Symptom is worse during the night and during exercise.
  • It can cause the child to vomit.


Can your child outgrow asthma?


According to medical statistics a child can outgrow asthma by die age of 10 years.


What happens to a child’s lungs during an asthma attack?


Asthma affects the breathing tubes, called the bronchioles, by inflaming the linings of the bronchioles, making it more difficult to breathe. This is where the “wheezing” sound or constant cough comes from.


There is 3 main elements to asthma:


  • The inflammation
  • The mucous plugging
  • The bronchospasm


Let me explain these elements better.


Because of the inflammation, brought on by an allergic reaction, the child’s body produces extra mucous which in return creates mucous plugging and then the child gets bronchospasm. This bronchospasm decreases the size of the breathing tubes called the bronchioles. This creates the wheezing sound when a person with asthma exhales, or a constant cough, mainly at night.

Because of the decreased bronchioles, the child’s body is not able to exhale air in the lungs. This becomes trapped. If this continues, it comes to a point where the asthmatic can not breathe.


How do you treat asthma?


The main aim is to get the breathing tubes to function without any difficulty when breathing.

Just like any other, the affect of medication differs from person to person.

This is also the case when using asthma medication.


Asthma medication will help your child with the following:


  • The medication controls the inflammation and stops the coughing or breathlessness at night and in the mornings.
  • Medication will treat an asthma attack when it happens, it will give quick relief.
  • It will avoid symptoms to trigger asthma.


There are 2 main asthma type medications,


Anti-inflammatory drugs:

These medications are very important and necessary because it prevents asthma attacks on an ongoing basis.

Corticosteroids are a very important medication because of the fact that it reduces the swelling and the production of mucus in the airways.



These medications relieve asthma symptoms. It relaxes the muscle bands that tighten around the airways. By doing that it opens the airways, letting air come out and into the lungs. Because of this your child will breathe much easier.

These bronchodilators also help clear the mucus form the child’s lungs.


If the airways are open, any mucus build-up can move and be coughed out easily.


These medications can be administered in different ways.


Your child’s asthma and exercise.


There are a lot of children with asthma that develop a tight chest after exercise. Dry and cold air can also be a trigger causing the air pipes in the lungs to narrow. If the air pipes only narrow a little bit, the child will only cough after exercise. If however the air pipes narrow a lot, the chest becomes tight and breathing becomes difficult.


This asthma condition occurs about after 10 minutes of exercise.


After the proper medication the chest will open up.


Preferred exercise for a child with asthma.


  • Swimming

Is sugar good for your child’s health?


Is sugar good for your child’s health?

This question is being asked by a mother once a day. Let’s start by understanding “sugar” better.

Sugars are carbohydrates (carbs), producing energy for the child’s body. These carbs are absorbed in the small intestine, converts to glucose by ways of the liver and then used for energy.


Sugar especially for a child must be consumed in moderation.

Too much sugar does not only affect a child’s behaviour but also his/her emotions and health. Please take into account that a child’s body does not process sugar the same way an adult body does. Sugar represses the child’s immune system and disturbs the body chemistry.

Here are a few negative health forms sugar can produce:

Ø       Allergies

Ø       Dizziness

Ø       Depression

Ø       Headaches

Ø       Constipation

Ø       Diarrhoea

Ø       Joint pain

Ø       Gas or bloating

Ø       Excessive sweating

Ø       Overweight

Ø       Skin problems

Ø       High blood pressure


There are 2 types of carbohydrates:

  • Simple carbohydrates:
  • This is present in sugars for example lactose (milk sugar), sucrose (table sugar), fructose (fruit sugar) and glucose.
  • Complex carbohydrates:
  • This is present in vegetables and grains. This carb is therefore the fiber and starch in these products.


Healthy versus unhealthy carbohydrates.

Too many carbs may be stored as body fat. Just like everything else in life, you get stuff that is either good or bad for your health. The same motto applies to carbs. Carbs can either be healthy or unhealthy to your body.

Healthy carbs do not only supply energy but also gives the necessary nutrients that the body needs, for example brown rice, fruits and vegetables.

Unhealthy carbs contain more than 5% added sugars for example ice cream, fruit juices and sweetened yogurt. These sugars provide empty calories, there are no minerals or vitamins included.


Problems sugar can cause!

  • Adult obesity as well as obesity in children is caused by an excess use of processed carbs. Processed carbs are refined sugars in foods like sweets, soda and refined grains like white rice, white flour and many pastas and breads. This processed carbs are a source of surplus calories which contributes to obesity.
  • The rise in blood sugar levels are caused by those foods that contain a lot of simple sugars.
  • One of the most important aspects in dental care in children is sugar. Sugar is one of the main reasons for dental caries.


When eating sugar remember the following:

  • When preparing foods, use little added sugars or caloric sweeteners.
  • A healthy person should use sugar in moderation and sugar should be used sparingly by a person with low calorie needs.
  • Eat vegetables, grains and fiber-rich fruits.
  • Always practice good oral hygiene after consuming sugar foods or beverages.
  • One aspect a parent always tend to do is reward a child by giving them sweets. This is not the healthy way to go.


What if my child eats too much sugar and can’t stop!

I call this a sugar addiction. Chances are good that if your child has a sugar addiction, other family members will have it too. In order to help your child, you as a parent need to be accountable for your daily sugar intake as well.

If a parent’s sugar intake is under control, your child can be helped much easier and quicker.


Here are a few useful tips:

Ø       Changing the family diet altogether, will lower your child’s sugar intake.

Ø       Eat a healthy breakfast. Eat fresh fruits instead of sugary cereal.

Ø       Breakfast should be eaten an hour before any activity. This reduces the risk of your child’s blood sugar level dropping. We all know what happens if your blood sugar level drops. You feel tired and sleepy, not in the mood for anything.

Ø       Don’t give in to your child’s pleading words for a chocolate. Rather explain the reasons why your answer will be “no”, instead of feeling sorry for him/her. In the long run this will be worth the effort.

Ø       Serve protein for lunch time, for example cheese, lean meat, nuts or poultry.

Ø       Balanced meals and high-protein snacks will help your child to stay focused.


Sugar and my child’s teeth!

Minimizing the amount of sugar given to your child, will definitely prevent tooth decay. Especially in tooth decay, it is important to know how much, but more importantly how often your child eats sugar.

How often your child has acidic food and drinks affects the amount of acid that will attack the tooth enamel.


What not to do!

  • A minimum amount of fizzy drinks, sweets and cakes. All the bad things that contain sugar.
  • No sugary foods and drinks between meals and especially not before bedtime.
  • Read the food labels. There are always hidden sugars in sauces and breakfast cereals.


What to do!

  • Give your child healthier snacks like dried fruit and fresh vegetables. Why?, because they contain natural sugars. Still keep in mind, even natural sugars can cause decay if eaten in large amounts.
  • Teach your child to drink water after every meal, or when eating a snack. This will neutralise the acid in the child’s mouth which will prevent tooth erosion.







How do you know if your child is allergic to milk products?


How do you know if your child is allergic to milk products?



Are you a disheartened parent, looking for answers on why your child always has a runny nose, coughing constantly, mucus in the airways and lungs and a weak immune system.

After visiting the doctor, your child is diagnosed with a cold or flu, antibiotics are prescribed. After the 5 day antibiotic course, within 10 days your child is sick again.


I know exactly how you feel, because I was one of those mothers, until I discovered the actual reason for my children’s constant flu condition.


Your child, just as mine, might be allergic to milk products.


In order to understand an allergy, let’s start from the beginning.


What is an allergy?

Allergy is the sensitivity to a substance that normally does not cause any discomfort to people. Hay fever for example is triggered due to the sensitivity for pollen. Asthma, eczema or rashes can again be triggered due to an entirely different allergy.

An allergy can affect any part of a person’s body, depending on the type of allergic reaction a person has.


Allergies are mainly a reaction to allergens, those substances for example pollen or the lactose in milk products. These allergens start the symptom of the allergy that a person is sensitive to.


An allergy can be anything,

  • A runny nose
  • Coughing
  • Mucus in the airways and lungs
  • Itchy eyes
  • Skin rash


It can affect your child’s sense of smell, sight, tastes and touch that causes irritation. This affect on the body occurs when the immune system overreacts to the normally harmless substances.


What causes an allergy?

Allergies tend to be inherited characteristics in the cells which are made up by the immune system. The immune system is the body’s defence system against diseases.

Allergies are caused due to an error in the immune system. White blood cells are a very important element in the immune system. The work of these cells is to be on the look-out for any strange substances for example viruses, proteins and bacteria that is different to the body’s own proteins. Whenever these white blood cells come across a strange protein, it forms antibodies, which in turn combines with the strange substance and neutralizes it.


In some strange way, the immune system of a normal healthy child has the ability to distinguish the difference between a strange substance (example a virus) and a harmless substance (example food protein).

Strangely so the immune system of a child that has an allergy, reacts to this harmless protein as if it was a threat, and therefore starts forming an antibody. This antibody therefore attacks itself to cells called mast cells. These mast cells are very important due to the fact that it contains chemicals, the most important one is histamine.

After the child’s body gets exposed to the protein again, the antibody attached to the mast cell combines with the strange protein trying to neutralise it. By doing this it upsets the structure of the mast cell. This mast cell then falls apart releasing a lot of histamine. The effect of the histamine is an inflammation, which dilates the walls of the blood vessels, which them leaks.


A child that has a milk allergy for example, the mucus glands in the nose and sinuses are stimulated by this leaking fluid cells in the blood, which in return produces fluid, which causes stuffiness, a runny nose and coughing.


How can you find out if your child is allergic to milk products?

An allergy, especially a milk allergy, normally means an allergy to the lactose in the milk. This allergy will occur from a very young age.  If you have a milk allergy history with your children you will learn what symptoms to look for.

Symptoms when drinking or eating milk products:

  • Vomiting
  • Colic
  • Diarrhoea, constipation, nausea
  • Constant runny nose
  • Sneezing
  • Mucus in airways and lungs
  • Watery eyes
  • Constant coughing due to asthma or mucus in sinuses
  • Skin conditions like hives, eczema and swelling of tissue


Always remember a lot of babies who are allergic to milk products will also react in the same way when given soy-based products.


The following tests can be done to establish an allergy.


The Skin prick test:

During this test a small needle is used to prick the skin through a drop of fluid having the known allergen. This test is usually done on the forearm and is not painful to the chid. Results of the test are immediately available.


The Blood test:

During this test a sample is taken of the child’s blood. This blood sample is then send to a laboratory. They will do a RAST(Radio Allergo Sorbent test) or a CAP-RAST. This test measures the amount of Immunoglobulin E antibodies(IgE) in the child’s blood to different types of allergens. His allergens can be food or environmentally related. The IgE is graded on a scale of 0-6 depending on the level of that IgE in the child’s blood.


Patch test:

This test is normally done to establish delayed allergic reactions for example Contact Dermatitis. The test involves taping traces of different known allergens on the skin underneath aluminium discs. This discs are kept on for 48 hours, whereafter a dermatologist assesses it for any allergic eczematous changes.

Allergy to rubber, cosmetics, preservatives, medication and nickel can be tested.


How to teach your child and others involved with your child about his/her allergy!

Most children have an allergy from a very young age. This makes it much easier to teach your child the pro’s and cons of his/her allergy and what to eat and what not.


Here are a few suggestions:

  • You must teach your child about his/her allergy. He/she must be taught from a very young age, the younger the better, about what he/she is allergic to, foods to eat and not and very importantly what the wrong foods will do to them.
  • All foods must have food labels. Teach your child to read those labels especially when it comes to cookies, sweets and drinks. A simple drink might contain milk solids which will be harmful to your child.
  • Teach your child that he/she can still eat delicious foods without containing milk solids. You get cakes and pudding recipes made without milk.
  • Teach your child to teach others especially if your child goes to a crèche during the day or an after school in the afternoons. Your child must be so educated that he/she will know exactly which foods given to them spells danger. 
  • By informing the teachers of your child’s allergy you keep your child safe in school. By packing your child’s lunch does not prevent them from eating the incorrect foods. There might be a birthday party in the class with cakes and chocolates.
  • Some people are not very educated when it comes to allergies especially a milk allergy. For some unexplained reason they think an allergy for milk products means that the child must not drink a glass of milk, totally unaware of the fact that giving your child a slice of cheese also contains milk solids.