By Michelle Haessler, M.D., Board Certified Radiation Oncologist
As an oncologist, I have treated breast cancer patients from as young as 15 years of age to patients in their nineties. Breast cancer can affect anyone but is more common in women in their 50’s and older. Yes, I have treated men with breast cancer but it only accounts for about 1% of all cases of breast cancer. Early onset breast cancer is generally considered breast cancer occurring in women under 40 years of age and often has a genetic component.
One reason that breast cancer is so devastating is that it affects women in the prime years of their lives. The time when women are working, raising a family and trying hard to achieve their life’s dreams. There is no “typical” breast cancer patient. All patients and their disease are unique. No “standard” treatment or “one size fits” all exists. The disease can be fast or slow in its progression. It can be highly favorable as to cure or more challenging. If you are reading this then you have an interest in breast cancer and have either been diagnosed with it or know someone who has been. So…
Make sure if you are diagnosed with breast cancer that your case is presented to a tumor conference. This is where oncology specialists from a variety of specialties discuss individual patients and their unique cancer. Studies have shown that as many as one third of all individual physician decisions are changed after being reviewed at a tumor conference. Almost all hospitals and cancer centers have access to a tumor conference either at their facility or through a teleconference. I cannot be more emphatic about this. It may be the most important decision that you make regarding your disease.
Also make a file of your all of your health records. Get copies of: pathology reports, mammograms, all radiology reports, CD’s of all radiology done (best to ask when you have the studies done usually they are free then), copies of your consults. Keep these records but every time you see a new doctor let them make copies for their records. This really expedites everything. It often can take quite some time for the doctor’s office to obtain records. This is good advice for everyone no matter what you are seeing your doctor for.
Hopefully, you are reading this and have not been diagnosed with cancer. What can you do to decrease your risk of developing breast cancer? Whereas, there is no way to prevent breast cancer from any particular individual, there are things that you can do to decrease your risk.
1. Get a mammogram. This doesn’t decrease your risk but the earlier the diagnosis is made the more treatable the disease the better the outcome.
2. Exercise. Even if it is only a half hour of walking a day, this will decrease your risk of developing cancer. Studies have demonstrated a better outcome if diagnosed with breast cancer if the patient exercises
3. Maintain a healthy weight. Hard to do but very important
4. Breast feed your infant. This is not only good for your baby but can decrease your chances of getting breast cancer
5. Eat a balanced diet. I am the worst but I keep trying. Never give up
6. Limit alcohol intake. Studies have shown a link to increased alcohol consumption and an increase in the risk of breast cancer
7. DON’T SMOKE there is a link between smoking and breast cancer as well as many other cancers. It is so bad for your health in so many ways. QUIT
8. Take vitamin D3 and keep your levels above 40ng/ml. Numerous studies have shown that higher blood levels of vitamin D3 reduced the risk of developing breast cancer.
9. Among women who did develop breast cancer the patients with higher levels of vitamin D3 had a lower incidence of the more aggressive forms of breast cancer and had a better prognosis.
10. Take curcumin. It has been shown to decrease cell proliferation of breast cancer cells and may have a protective effect.
Nothing can prevent breast cancer from developing in any particular person. We are all a unique combination of environment and genes. By taking a proactive stance and becoming an advocate for our own health be can help tip the odds in our favor.
Michelle Haessler, M.D.
Board Certified Radiation Oncologist
Dr. Haessler is a Board Certified Radiation Oncologist. She has spent over 25 years diagnosing and treating cancer patients. At age 30 she decided to go to Medical School and become a physician. She was a single parent with a 3-year-old daughter. Her daughter provided motivation for her decision to become a physician. Dr. Haessler wanted to provide a good life for her daughter and prove to her that women can accomplish anything in life if they wanted it badly enough.
She graduated from the University of Nevada, Reno School of Medicine in 1989 and completed her internship in Internal Medicine the following year. While going through her oncology rotation she was inspired by her cancer patients. Their bravery and optimism against all odds , their love of life and all of the people around them, motivated Dr. Haessler to devote her life to helping these patients in any way she could.
She completed her Radiation Oncology residency at Henry Ford Hospital in 1994. She is most appreciative of the wonderful education and experience she received there. HFH is a world renown cancer center treating an endless variety of cancers from the rarest to the most common forms. She remembers the excellent, dedicated physicians she had the honor of working with.
Dr. Haessler has worked as a Radiation Oncologist in Nebraska and Iowa for approximately the last 17 years. While she was an Assistant Professor at Creighton University and elsewhere she gave numerous lectures on a variety of cancer topics including: breast cancer, prostate cancer, lung cancer, radiation oncology emergencies, radiobiology, advances in cancer treatments, palliative care etc. She loved teaching medical students, nurses, residents, her patients and anyone that wanted to listen.
Throughout all her experiences, Dr. Haessler has had a profound love for her patients and respect for all the hard work and dedication her fellow oncologists have had. After seeing so much heartbreak with the passing of terminally ill patients, Dr. Haessler usually could be heard after a long day uttering “I HATE CANCER”. She attended a lecture on the effects of vitamin D3 and its decrease in the risk of certain cancers and this then became Dr. Hassler’s next challenge in life to try to decrease the incidence of cancer.
New studies were published which showed that certain cancer risks might be decreased with simple daily supplements. After years of studying this and pondering how best to convey this information, Dr. Haessler decided to develop a nutritional supplement which taken twice daily may decrease the incidence of certain cancers, decrease the expense of cancer treatment, decrease the discomfort of treatment but most importantly decrease the heartbreak of cancer itself, thus, the creation of Covitale-7.
CoVitale-7 can be purchased at:
848 1st Avenue North, Suite 120
Naples, FL 34102
(next to Wynn’s Market)
HOW TO MINIMIZE YOUR RISK OF GETTING BREAST CANCER
By Michelle Haessler, M.D., Board Certified Radiation Oncologist