‘Make your mammogram a priority’ – breast cancer survivor Jodi Jones shares tips for navigating a difficult diagnosis
Oct. 1, 2018 is forever etched in the mind of Jodi Jones as the day she was diagnosed with breast cancer. Jones, who works at Regence, is now cancer-free two years later and enjoys sharing what she learned about a cancer that today affects 1 in 8 women.
Establish healthy habits
Healthy lifestyle choices have been long tied to better health outcomes, and this extends to cancer , too – from lowered risk to improved outcomes during treatment and while in remission.
“While we can’t control what happens to us, we can choose to prioritize healthy habits,” says Jones, who established a healthy routine early in her treatment, citing nutrition, exercise, sleep and stress management as four key areas of focus.
Eating nutritious food and exercising regularly are recommended by health experts for everyone, including those working through a cancer diagnosis. The American Cancer Society also reports that increased body weight and weight gain as an adult are linked with a higher risk of breast cancer after menopause.
“I found that having healthy food available and prepared ahead of time made it easy to eat regularly and helped me maintain adequate levels of protein to keep my treatment on track,” says Jones. “My favorite breakfast while undergoing treatment was salmon, sweet potatoes and green beans. A cup of bone broth in the evening packed in 9 grams of protein and had the added benefit of helping me sleep through the night.”
During her treatment process, Jones prioritized at least 150 minutes of activity each week, as recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), by walking around her neighborhood or at a nearby community park. “I found that it helped to establish a routine and find a walking partner, so it's fun and you stick with it.”
Sleep also plays a vital role in overall health and well-being, when the body heals and repairs itself. Jones says that she prioritized at least 8 hours of sleep each night during her treatment.
Finally, Jones says that managing stress during treatment was a difficult yet important step to keep her recovery on track. Studies also show that persistent feelings of stress have potential health impacts.
“Having cancer taught me to let go of the unimportant things. Facing life with a positive attitude and letting go of fear makes a big difference in the joy experienced each day.”
Keep a journal
Jones says that she found it helpful to keep a personal journal throughout her treatment to track her progress and identify questions for her oncology team.
“That way you don’t forget to ask the things that have been on your mind – and believe me, there will be many! Write down your questions and concerns – anything on your mind – and take it to your appointments.”
Know that it’s okay to accept help from others
When you’re living with breast cancer, it can be challenging to balance treatment with your regular day-to-day tasks – especially when you’re dealing with side effects like fatigue and pain.
“A wise friend helped me to learn to accept help from others. It's not just good for you. It is good for the person who wants to help you.”
Schedule your mammogram
Above all, Jones stresses the importance of getting a regular mammogram as part of preventative care, especially for women between the ages of 45 and 54. Finding breast cancer early is key to improved outcomes, and a mammogram can detect cancer before it’s large enough to be found by a self-exam.
“Make your mammogram a priority and get it scheduled today. It matters because YOU matter to those who love you.”
Most Regence health plans cover annual in-network preventive mammograms at 100 percent. Regence members can log in to regence.com to learn more about preventative care benefits, search for in-network doctors, and more.