It’s been more than 12 years since my mother was diagnosed with Stage 3 breast cancer, but I can still remember the initial feeling of disbelief, quickly followed by fear when she told me. She is the matriarch of our family and had always been a picture of health, so her diagnosis floored our whole family.
We were just one family of more than 50,000, who were dealing with a breast cancer diagnosis that year. Around 55,000 women and 370 men are diagnosed with breast cancer every year in the UK.
When someone you love is diagnosed with a life-threatening disease, you feel powerless. I knew I had to do something to help and became involved in a major donor appeal for a breast cancer charity. It was there that I was introduced to some fascinating research on the power of antioxidants when it came to fighting disease. I knew green tea was high in antioxidants and wanted my mum to drink the best out there. It was then that I discovered matcha. We started drinking it together and felt great. Not only because of the physical benefits but also because we felt were taking some control back and doing something positive. I felt so passionate about matcha that I started OMGTea four years later.
Breast cancer affects us all
Every year around 11,500 women and 85 men die from breast cancer in the UK – that’s nearly 1,000 deaths each month, 31 each day or one every 45 minutes. The figures are sobering and with one in seven women in the UK developing breast cancer in their lifetime, this is a disease that affects us all whether that is directly or indirectly.
We were one of the lucky families, my mum’s treatment was successful, and she has been living cancer free for nearly a decade. In fact, breast cancer survival rates overall are improving and have doubled in the past 40 years due to a combination of improvements in treatment and care, earlier detection through screening and a focus on targets, including faster diagnosis.
With breast cancer the leading cause of death in women under 50 however, there is still more work to be done and research is key to further increasing survival rates. OMGTea has been involved in breast cancer research carried out by Professor Michael Lisanti and his research team at Salford University in Manchester and the results have been very encouraging, paving the way for more studies in the future.
The Healthy Life Foundation, a charity that funds research into age related disease, and that was founded by me in 2015, also has a focus on breast cancer research, looking at the role of natural compounds in fighting the disease as well as the re-purposing of FDA / MHRA approved drugs to get life-saving treatments to market faster. You can find more information on the ground-breaking research they have already carried out on The Healthy Life Foundation website.
Self exams are key for early detection
There are many different factors that can affect your chances of developing breast cancer. There’s no one single reason – it results from a combination of the way we live our lives, our genes, and our surrounding environment.
There are things we can all do to lower our chances of getting breast cancer though, such as drinking less alcohol, eating well and being mindful of making healthy choices including maintaining a healthy weight and staying physically active.
Checking our breasts regularly is crucial for early detection, this includes doing monthly breast self-exams, and scheduling regular clinical breast exams and mammograms, when possible. If breast cancer is found early, there are more treatment options and a better chance for survival. Women whose breast cancer is detected at an early stage have a 93 percent or higher survival rate in the first five years. So please, don't forget to check your breasts regularly! Here is a link to the Breast Cancer Now website, with more information on breast self-exams and what to look out for.
To support Breast Cancer Awareness Month, we will be donating 10% of profits from all web sales this month, to The Healthy Life Foundation. The funds will be earmarked specifically for breast cancer research that is currently being planned by Professor Lisanti and the team at Salford Uni. We will keep you up to date with the research here and you can also visit www.thehealthylifefoundation.org for more information and to sign up to the charity’s newsletter.
Thank you for reading. As the raison d’etre for OMGTea, this is a cause very close to my heart.
Source: Breast cancer statistics – 2021, Breast Cancer Now