The identity of “female” has been directly linked to breasts: plunging necklines, lingerie ads, magazine covers, movies. We can imagine the voluptuous pillow of her breasts and deep cleavage in all of these images. Breasts are everywhere we look, sexualized as the ultimate feminine. Our psychology, sexuality, and self-esteem relate to our breasts, whether we realize it or not.
Most women probably don’t know the 1 in 8 statistic. I didn’t until I had a mammogram in July of 2016. My mammogram showed what the medical profession calls “a small cluster of micro calcifications” which they consider a potential precursor to breast cancer. Suddenly, a surgical biopsy was strongly recommended and I was faced with the gravity of this news.
I encourage women to trust your bodies’ wisdom, consult with your doctor, do your own research, and really consider the Cancer Machine that so dominates Western Medicine. Cancer Machine? Ribbons and bracelets and slogans like Fight For A Cure all packaged pretty in pink. We are aware of breast cancer now. We know breast cancer exists, that it is rampant, and the likelihood of getting it seems strong. All of this “awareness” has desensitized us to the disease and our “probability” of getting it. So, women go along with their doctors advice and go through with the recommendations - just following orders - reciting the mantra “better safe than sorry” just like they have been told. After all, nobody has died from a breast biopsy. As I learned about breast cancer diagnoses and procedures for patients, I also learned that doctors pass along huge markups for the prescription/sale of every chemo treatment they prescribe. I learned there are actually biopsy quotas and that studies of breast biopsies found that surgery was used too extensively. Are doctor’s intentionally diagnosing patients with cancer?
February 19, 2011 New York Times:
“A study in Florida found that 30 percent of the breast biopsies there from 2003 to 2008 were surgical. The rate should be 10 percent or less, according to medical guidelines. The figures in the rest of the country are likely to be similar to Florida’s, researchers say, which would translate to more than 300,000 women a year having unnecessary surgery, at a cost of hundreds of millions of dollars. Many of these women do not even have cancer: about 80 percent of breast biopsies are benign. For women who do have cancer, a surgical biopsy means two operations instead of one, and may make the cancer surgery more difficult than it would have been if a needle biopsy had been done.
The reason for the overuse of open biopsies is not known. Researchers say the problem may occur because not all doctors keep up with medical advances and guidelines. But they also say that some surgeons keep doing open biopsies because needle biopsies are usually performed by radiologists. The surgeon would have to refer the patient to a radiologist, and lose the biopsy fee.”
In the midst of all of this pink, though, you have to wonder why breast cancer is so prevalent in some countries and not in others. What do they know that we don’t know?
Breastcancerchoices.org cites, “The incidence and severity of breast cancer is less in Japan than in Europe and the US, and it’s attributable to the diet. Japanese women consume 25 times more dietary iodine than North American women and have lower breast cancer rates.”
Seaweed and seafood are high in iodine and a regular part of the Japanese diet. Yet Iodine is nothing to take lightly and can have serious, negative side effects depending on your health. Case in point, one friend who had been successfully managing her symptoms of Hashimoto’s disease started taking Iodine. One month later and she reported back that she had completely gone down hill, lost all her energy and was exhausted. She then looked up iodine and Hashimoto’s disease and read about all of the negative implications. She quit the iodine, returned to her protocol for managing Hashimoto’s Disease, and resumed her previous level of energy and well-being. I researched Hashimoto’s and selenium (best source Brazil nuts) and discovered selenium must first be administered to prepare the body to receive iodine. Here again, I encourage women to consult with their doctor and do their own research, credible information is right online. The links throughout this testimonial will get you started!
So, this is how my story unfolds with the eventual discovery of iodine. When I was a teenager in the late 80’s, maybe 17 years old, I discovered a lump at the top of my left breast. I went to a doctor, an old man. I was nervous to open the drape and expose my bare chest to him. He felt the lump and proceeded to take a ballpoint pen from his lab coat pocket and draw an inch and a half line horizontally across the top of my breast. He said I had fibrocystic breasts and that I would feel the discomfort and tenderness my whole life. The scar would look something like the blue line he had drawn on my skin. There was no mammogram, just a physical exam. He sent me home to decide if I wanted to remove the cyst or not.
My parents and I talked about it around the dining room table. My mom had fibrocystic breasts. She said at one point she had a lump and the doctor wanted to perform a core needle biopsy on her breast. She and my father decided not to do it. She had regular exams and the lump never changed so it was considered benign. My parents were calm and really left the decision up to me, but my dad said the unforgettable words, “You know, once they start cutting on you that’s when problems can start.” I dismissed the lump, bolstering myself that I had fibrocystic breasts; my mother had fibrocystic breasts; that was normal for some people.
A few years later, I started going to gynecological appointments with low-grade anxiety. My fibrocystic lumps and dense breast tissue always caused great alarm to my doctor which was further exacerbated by the fact that my maternal grandmother had died from breast cancer when she was 59 years old. The pre-visit questionnaire always asked about the maternal grandmother and the doctors emphasized this every time. According to modern medicine I was a strong candidate for breast cancer due to this hereditary factor alone. During each appointment I bolstered myself against believing it would happen to me. Yet, when I was prescribed my first mammogram, I was 31 years old and I followed their recommendation.
Later, still in my early 30’s, I discovered a definitive lump in my outer left breast, towards the underarm. A marble size lump that I reported was more sensitive depending on my coffee consumption and during my menstrual cycle. I consoled myself that cancer would not fluctuate like that, but the lump did worry me. During the exam, the female doctor said that it was palpable but not adhered to the chest wall and that was a good sign. After that, I was scheduled for a mammogram every six months. The doctor was always concerned and additional images were always taken.
In the spring of 2011, at age 42, my mammogram coincided with the time frame of a scheduled knee operation, a scope procedure for a torn meniscus. A 30-minute operation followed by a few weeks on crutches and a six-week recovery. The standard breast screening turned into a diagnostic screening and this time, I was referred to a new doctor. She was young and very assertive in suggesting a metal micro chip be inserted into the area for monitoring. I told her about my knee surgery and that I would be on crutches. I was thinking about underarm pain and pressure around the area of the lump. She said a thin needle would be inserted into the breast and that a metal chip would be inserted into the area indicated on the ultrasound image. That was it. She persuaded me to make the appointment. I considered that my mother would be with me, since she was flying in for the knee operation, so I agreed with great trepidation and made the appointment.
I started my menstrual cycle the day I had my knee operation. The operation went smoothly and a few days later my mother and I went in for the chip implant procedure. Laying back on the table, my arm raised over my head, the young doctor could not locate the lump as she performed an ultrasound. She left the room and returned with an older woman, clearly her superior. She, too, massaged the wand over my breast as the younger doctor stood poised behind her holding a different wand, only this wand had a long thick needle protruding out the end. I had imagined a very fine, hairlike needle when she had described the procedure, but this needle was the size of a bamboo skewer! Fortunately, the older doctor could not locate the lump either and dismissed the procedure completely. The whole thing happened so quickly that my panic was brief. She left the room as the young doctor followed in dismay. I hopped off the table, dressed, and escaped on my crutches! I had told her the lump was affected by coffee and my period!
The next year, after another diagnostic test, I was told by another doctor not to worry. Eight years of unchanged pictures had convinced that doctor it was not cancer. I was told if it was cancer, at this point it would have spread all over. At last, I put my worries to rest. I felt validated that I trusted my innate sense of knowing, never believing it was cancer, yet my low-grade sense of worry and anxiety had always been present. However, I was still “high risk” and continued getting mammograms every six months. The protocol was the same, the initial screening and then more pictures and an ultrasound. Over the years the consensus was that I have very dense breasts.
In July 2016, at age 47, one of these screenings alarmed the radiologist when small micro calcifications were seen in the mammogram image. The technician started my mammogram saying all I really needed was a standard screening and not a diagnostic exam. She wanted to “save me from extra radiation “ since things hadn’t changed in so long.
She took a few pictures and then indicated, that actually, she better take a few more. Our chatty conversation petered out fading back into the formality of the exam. Midway through our appointment she saw something and said that she had better stick with the diagnostic imaging. When she was done, I covered myself and went over to her computer screen. I wanted to see what she was seeing and it was quite definitive. She pointed to the area on the screen and I saw a cluster of small white specs, like a constellation of stars. She said I would probably have to stay and get an ultrasound, which I expected, but this was different. I had never heard of a “small cluster of calcifications”. The look on her face was serious as she ushered me back to my dressing room. I waited in my cubical until I was called back to another room for an ultrasound. The lights were dimmed. I laid back on the table and raised my arm above my head. The technician opened my gown exposing my right breast and applied the conductive gel to my skin. She touched me with the wand and massaged it over my right breast, particularly the area where the calcifications had been identified by the mammogram. Images of black and white bubbly cysts appeared on the screen. I craned my neck to look up and over my shoulder to see the images. After she was done she left the room to get the radiologist.
The young man who analyzed the images came in alongside the technician and explained that he strongly encouraged me to get a surgical biopsy. He rubbed the gooey wand over the center of my breast and then he looked down into my eyes. He reiterated that I should get a biopsy. I could feel complete denial wash over my body and harden my face. There was a pause. I stared back into his eyes and played along. Okay. What does a biopsy entail?
He told me they would take another picture to identify the area and insert a thin wire into the breast to mark the area. Then I would walk over to the surgeon’s office in another building, with the wire hanging out of my breast, and have the procedure to remove the calcifications to be tested. Once that was done there might be more depending on the margins and if anything had gotten into the lymph nodes. Whoa! Margins? Lymph nodes? I thought to myself. I knew about a needle biopsy and wondered if I could get just that? No. The radiologist told me that I was going to need the surgical biopsy. He could tell I was resisting and he looked a little surprised.
He asked if I could feel the lump as he placed my fingers just left of my nipple, my fingers sliding over the goo, over the lump. Yes.
I hated him. I wanted out of there. I vowed to myself that I wouldn't do anything he described. He and I had a stare down, of sorts, in that dim light, his expressionless gaze looking into my eyes with pure medical urgency. When I asked what the probability was he told me 1 in 5 of these scenarios turns out to be cancer. Did I want to take that chance?
I felt as if they’ve wanted to chop on my breasts my whole life and I had continually slipped through their recommendations and remained intact. This time I felt a decision was going to have to be made. One that I had wrangled with since I was 17. Would I take a cancer treatment? Would I follow medical protocol if I was diagnosed. I didn’t want to. Could I resist chemo and radiation if cancer was indeed identified. Would I do major surgery? I got dressed and drove home. I had missed meeting a friend for dinner, sending her updates of my prolonged appointment instead. By the time I got home, she had emailed me three different internet links on calcifications in the breasts.
I devoured the information she sent and felt there were connections to my lifestyle and some physical conditions that I had recently experienced. What had changed since my last mammogram?
A new house and harder water came to mind. When the dishes and laundry turned white from higher calcium in the water, I switched my water consumption from the filtered water out of the refrigerator to alkaline water from the local water store. I took more hot, detoxifying baths. I pulled out my magnesium chloride gel from under the counter and slathered my breast and underarms daily. I applied diluted frankincense gum resin and sometimes frankincense essential oil to the same areas. I took a frankincense tincture and CBD oil everyday until the containers were empty. I drank more herbal teas and switched to green tea instead of coffee. I ate less meat and more fruits and vegetables always opting for organic food choices. As a yoga teacher, I backed off teaching classes and focused more on my own yoga practice and meditation. Before the appointment, I had just
finished a month of taking blue-green algae from Klamath Lake and a mushroom complex tincture. I buried my fear in the thought that I didn’t have to do anything they said. When I followed up with my primary doctor she told me they never force anyone to do a biopsy, you have to decide that for yourself. I told her all of the protocols I had enlisted and I was on a mission to gather information. I agreed to see a surgeon.
One step at a time.
My brain was reeling with ideas and different approaches as to what I could do to reverse my situation. I remembered my mother had shrunk nodes on her thyroid by alternately applying topical sandalwood and frankincense essential oils. Each oil was mixed in a carrier base of grapeseed oil and she applied sandalwood one day and frankincense the next. I had looked it up online, essential oils for thyroid, and found the prescription. She applied the oils for four months and by the time the next picture was taken, the nodes on the left side of her thyroid had shrunk. The surgery to remove half of the butterfly-shaped gland was postponed. She continued the protocol and by the second year, the nodes had continued to shrink and her surgeon discharged her completely.
As I spoke with my mother about her thyroid, she remembered she had thermal imaging done when she was investigating a lump in her breast many years ago. She suggested I get thermal imaging as a comparison. Learning about thermal imaging revealed some of the negative effects and inaccuracies of mammograms. I quickly located Northern Arizona Thermal Imaging through a friend and made an appointment. The diagnosis was low risk/concern. I felt much better and slightly confidant.
Next, I met with a female breast surgeon in Phoenix. Her office was elegant and very feminine. She looked at my mammogram pictures and said I had very busy breasts. Ductal carcinoma in situ was mentioned during the appointment as a non-invasive cancer, a precursor to cancer located in the milk ducts. After performing a manual examine we sat and discussed my options. In fact, I was a candidate for a needle biopsy over the more invasive procedure originally suggested. She described how the breast would be clamped flat, held still for the procedure. My breasts were small but since they were so dense she didn’t think the needle would go through to the other side. This was the reason the radiologist had recommended the other type of biopsy which she went on to describe, as well. She said she was comfortable waiting, that it was early enough to wait and do a follow up mammogram in six months. If there were no changes we would watch it every six months for two years before they would disregard it. Otherwise, if there were changes she would not be comfortable waiting and would recommend the needle biopsy. I liked her approach. I had six months to change my picture!
I continued to increase my healthy protocols. I had 3 months until the recommended follow-up with thermal imaging and 6 months until the follow-up mammogram.
Months passed. Then, one day a good friend gave me seven capsules of Terry Naturally Tri-Iodine. I was continually complaining of being cold and she suggested that I try iodine. I knew a little about iodine but it was out in the periphery of my nutritional acumen and I had never tried it. The next morning I took the first capsule with a little food as she suggested. She said it would help regulate my body temperature and give me a little kick, as if I got my pilot light lit. That first day I felt improved mental clarity and an upbeat mood. By mid-week I had turned into a rocket! My words were quick to come and I became more verbose and energized. I was making jokes and feeling like my “old self”. I was getting my lists done and long hours spent on the computer weren't as grueling as they had been. Something was happening. At the same time I started waking up in the middle of the night. I have always been a light sleeper, but this was clearly associated to the iodine. I was totally energized, full of ideas and creativity; I half-joked it was like Kundalini Rising! By the fourth day, however, I was only sleeping 4-5 hours a night. I loved the effect yet knew it could never trump the power of sleep. I notified my primary doctor that I was taking iodine after my online research described different kinds of iodine and cautions - all of the reasons I hadn’t self-prescribed it for myself in the past. In six days I had taken one capsule per day in the morning, having shared one with my boyfriend who reported the same effects.
I bought my own Terry Naturally Tri-Iodine 3mg over the counter, at the local health food store, and right on the box it said:
- Supports Strong Cellular Defense and Hormone Balance Breast, Prostate, and Colon Health
- Hormone Balance
- Menopause Relief
- Healthy Detoxifcation Cellular Defense
I reported back to my friend and discovered that she had given me 12 mcg iodine capsules! No wonder I had turned into a rocket! I continued taking the lower dosage and smoothed out my sleepless nights. Two weeks after taking the iodine daily, I started my menstrual cycle with no PMS or tenderness in my breasts. It was remarkable. The results prompted my extensive research of iodine linked to breast health.
The second thermal imaging appointment was scheduled right after my period, the time when the breasts are naturally less swollen. I had only taken the iodine for two weeks before this follow-up appointment and reported that to the technician. She assumed it was for my thyroid and added it would be good for all of the radiation that I had from mammograms. I told her I was taking iodine for breast health. Nothing more was said and we continued the exam. The report was mailed to me within days and the images had improved! The report recommended vitamin D3 and selenium.
Three months later, I had the 6 month follow-up mammogram. I had called to reschedule the appointment to occur just after my menstrual cycle and I was told that the appointment scheduled wasn’t a mammogram but a biopsy. I rescheduled the biopsy as a precaution that my follow-up mammogram showed a negative change and made an appointment for a mammogram.
During this follow-up mammogram I told the technician I had been taking iodine. She too assumed it was for my thyroid. I explained it was good for breast health. Nothing more was said. She took pictures and afterwards, I quickly looked at the final picture on the screen. I couldn’t see the “constellation” I had seen before. I was hopeful. I waited in a private cubical with nervous resignation that no matter what they said I didn’t have to get a biopsy. When the technician returned she changed the game with one quick report. The calcifications had shrunk. Tears welled up in the corner of my eyes as I whispered, “It was the iodine.” The technician continued, saying the radiologist was shocked; he had never seen this before. In that moment, I vowed I would never do a biopsy on my breasts.
I left the office with a wave of relief, sadness, and anger swirling within me. Why hadn’t any of these practitioners and specialists known about iodine related to breast health? I wanted to call everyone and tell them my good news, at the same time, I didn’t want to flaunt what could change down the road. I thought of friends that had gone through a lumpectomy or some variation of a biopsy on their breast just to be told it was nothing. They were fine. Only they were left with the scar and the physical and emotional pain from the procedure. I thought of women who had been diagnosed with cancer and gone through mastectomy, chemo, and radiation. Everything I had read about Iodine was that it was anti-cancer and that the old guard knew this. Doctors of yore had prescribed iodine for many ailments.
Remember the Rust Belt? When an increase in goiter - a thyroid malfunction based condition - became prevalent in the 1920’s due to the soil levels being extremely low in iodine, the U.S. government called for iodine to be added to salt. Iodine had decreased in certain regional soil and the respective agriculture was deficient of this element. Additionally, people weren’t eating iodine rich foods. Iodine was known to be critical for the ability of the thyroid to synthesize certain gland secretions which influence the heart, metabolism, and nerve responses, among other things. A lack of iodine during pregnancy and in the baby’s diet after being born can cause significant health and developmental problems. Iodine deficiency has also been linked to increased difficulty with processing information, diminished fine motor skills, extreme fatigue, depression, weight gain, and low basal body temperatures. U.S. research copied the Swiss by adding iodine to the salt and the goiter rate decreased drastically. In 1924 the U.S. government requested the Morton Salt Company add iodine to salt as an easy, spoil-free, economical way to bring it into the food chain. Iodized salt became a simple, highly effective way to deal with the health imbalances caused by not getting enough iodine. Today, however, processed and fast foods don’t contain iodized salt and many people prefer the taste of gourmet salts that only have trace amounts of iodine.
Iodine had been used to treat anything and everything with high success rates only to be discarded in the wake of Big Pharma. As the earth’s soil has continued to lose it’s iodine content, cancer rates have soared and pink ribbons flourish - it all seems so connected.
The next day I called the breast surgeon’s office to cancel the biopsy and I was immediately asked to reschedule the appointment. When I told her I was just canceling the appointment because my tests came back normal, she replied quickly, that I could call back when I was ready to reschedule. She was on auto- pilot and hadn’t heard me.
The synopsis of my ordeal is that I took Terry Naturally Tri-Iodine 3mg and Dr. Mercola’s vitamins D (5,000 IU) with K2 (180 mcg) daily, for just over 3 months until I had my second mammogram. I read that once you saturate your system you can drop back to taking iodine 2-3 times a week, which I do now, and I still take the vitamins D and K2 daily. I am sticking to my daily protocol of hot baths, massage with essential oils, eating healthily, and loving my breasts! I don’t know if I will get a six month follow-up mammogram or not - probably not. I will get thermal imaging instead. I respect modern medicine, yet I believe in the medicinal apothecary of nature and the less invasive approach before relying on the other. I sincerely wish to instill inspiration and hope to women who have fibrocystic breasts and challenge the current medical approach on how fibrocystic breasts should be treated.
Here the links to get you started on your own research. Please, do so with discernment.
https://holisticprimarycare.net/topics/topics-o-z/vitamins-a-supplements/343- iodine-a- breast-health-think-beyond-the-thyroid.html