CUUP supports you. Some days that means an essential, unlined bra. Other days that means bringing together a panel of strong women to discuss how we can prevent breast cancer and support the women in our lives who have been affected.
On Thursday, October 8th, CUUP hosted an intimate afternoon of self-care and awareness in support of the Breast Cancer Research Foundation. At the top of the NoMad Hotel, we enjoyed acupuncture and ear Seeding from WTHN, pressure point massages from Jon Katayama, and an intimate panel discussion – hosted by Veronica McCarthy of DORÉ – on preventative care for breasts and all other complexities of a woman’s body.
Breast cancer is the second most common cancer for U.S. women, with risk levels rising. A woman living in the United States has a 1 in 8 lifetime risk of being diagnosed, compared to 1 in 11 in the 1970’s. The increase can be partially attributed to a longer life expectancy, but increased breast cancer incidence is also due to changes in reproductive patterns, menopausal hormone use, the rising prevalence of obesity and increased detection through screening.
While there is no “correct” way to live life in order to avoid a diagnosis, CUUP wanted to have an honest, fact-based conversation about what women should know about breast cancer, risk factors, and early detection – and how we can support the women (and men) in our lives that have been diagnosed. So, we invited an inspiring body of women to lead the conversation: Melissa Telzer of InKind Space, Dr. Elizabeth Poyner of Poynor Health, Dr. Nadja Piinnavaia of Plantable, Chloe Kernaghan of Sky Ting Yoga and Kerrilyn Pamer of CAP Beauty.
“Be aware of the early warning sides of breast cancer” Dr. Elizabeth Poyner urges, “And know your family history, as this may alter when you begin screening for breast cancer.” Dr. Elizabeth Poyner is a gynecologic oncologist and advanced pelvic surgeon with a lifelong interest in the role of hormonal health in overall wellbeing. She kicked off the conversation with a fact-based explanation of key factors that put women at risk and the preventative measures we all can take.
“Self examinations should be started at a young age, so you know the map of your breasts. They should be done once a month, every month, a few days after your menstrual cycle. This is when your hormones are at their lowest. That’s when you will have the fewest lumps and bumps that might confuse you.
“As for mammography, recommendations are all over the place today. I recommend talking to your physician about your personal and family history to determine the right time to start. Generally, though, we recommend starting mammograms – if you don’t have a family history or don’t have any elevated risk – at age 40. My husband and I could fill auditoriums with people whose lives have been saved by having a mammogram between 40 and 50. Start at 40 and get one every year.”
In addition to family medical history and genetics, lifestyle choices play a big role in diagnostic risk. “We can’t control everything, but we can invest in lifestyle choices ” Dr. Nadja Piinnavaia of Plantable explains. Nadja founded Plantable to make a plant based lifestyle easy and delicious. The meals are chef-crafted, but Plantable is born of scientific approach.
“[I lost my mother and sister to breast cancer,] so when my mother-in-law was diagnosed with kidney cancer, I thought, oh no, not again. I started reading about lifestyle factors. I started reading about food and the environment. I grew up in a calorie world – don’t eat too much – but I realized that today’s modern diet was compromising our immune system, which is the first barrier of staving off cancer. I wanted to do something about it. But I also knew how hard it was to make changes, like cutting out sugar. So I started a program that makes it easier to make the changes.”
“If I really dig deep two reasons drove me to start Plantable. One was: I want to really help my mother in law. But secondly, I’m quite ill-fated with my genes, having also lost my father at an early age. My children are now 8 and 10. I want to be around for as long as I possibly can. We can’t control everything, but at least, what I want to do for myself and help others do, is make those nutritious lifestyle changes. Stack the odds in our favor. Not have people taken away from us prematurely. At Plantable, we start with nutrition.”
“We approach beauty similarly to nutrition,” Kerrilynn Pamer explains, “It’s about feeding the skin, instead of taking things away. Some of you might be familiar without the skincare model of stripping, stripping, stripping – but it’s actually really beneficial to keep adding to your skin; to add really beautiful herbs and botanicals.” Kerrilynn is the co-founder of CAP beauty, where she provides customers with 100% all natural products, practices and knowledge. Kerrilynn strives for ‘high vibrational’ beauty by harnessing the power of plants.
“The physical act of touching your skin won’t take cancer away,” Kerrilynn continues, “But its a way of taking care of yourself. A lot of women (and men) who come into the store talk about how touch is a way of making themselves feel human again. Touching themselves and taking care of themselves, instead of trying to fix something because it’s wrong. There’s a real power in physical touch. Feeding yourself, instead of constantly removing.”
When it comes to unlocking the power of the physical, Chloe Kearnagan – co-director of SKY TING yoga – advocates for repetition and a commitment to consistency. “When starting a physical practice, no matter where you are coming from, the key is to be consistent. You don’t brush your teeth once and expect your teeth to stay clean for the rest of your life. It’s something you have to do on a regular basis in order to reap the benefits.”
“This could be as simple as learning how important it is to take a breath somewhere where breath normally doesn’t travel in your body,” Chloe says, “That might be enough in the middle of a hard time – just learning how to breathe lower, as opposed to breathing into the top of the chest, when you get really scared and are about to go into a treatment. That could be your yoga practice. Then, of course, adding in more physical movement over time. But I think the most important thing is repetition and consistency, over a period of time, in order to see the results. That’s a yoga sutra, I didn’t make that up. That’s old school.”
This advice around lifestyle, breathing and returning to one’s self resonates with Melissa Telzer, a two-time cancer survivor, diagnosed at ages 13 and 46. “I love what everyone has said. How breathing is so important. There is so much information out there about cancer, that it can be very overwhelming. We need to take moments to breathe.” Melissa founded InKind Space – a new platform that provide support throughout every stage of the cancer journey, from diagnosis to treatment and recovery.
“It’s the human factor. My whole thing is that there is always a plan for cancer, but there is no plan for the human. We have to remember that there is a human involved, and getting back to yourself is very important. I’m not saying we all have to go on meditation retreatments, but we do need to learn how to return to ourselves and find the center.”
For the month of October, CUUP is donating 20% of our Blush Demi sales to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation in support of urgent and necessary research. We are honored to support this organization, and committed to supporting the CUUP community through conversation, awareness and community.