Thursday, March 14, 2019


My name is Vanessa Silva. I was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2007 after my father was first diagnosed with breast cancer where he was identified as BRCA2 positive.   I found out in a very roundabout way. I only went for a check-up because my doctor wanted to be proactive, and she just wanted to confirm that I was healthy.  More importantly, she wanted to check to see that I wasn't carrying the gene. But during the mammogram, they told me to go upstairs to see my doctor.  Right then and there I knew they were going to tell me I had cancer. I spoke to my doctor and she confirmed it.

I can remember crying- then saying, "Okay, you need to get yourself together. There's options. They said it was at stage zero. It's not a death sentence. We're going to do what we have to do... but you're probably going to be BRCA2 positive, as well."  The battle for me started with chemotherapy- but not radiation. In a matter of weeks, they realized the cancer was more aggressive than they thought, and it wasn't at stage zero after all because it already had gone to the lymph nodes.

During the treatment process, I pushed to do my part and changed the way I lived starting with the way I ate. I exercised, I stopped eating meat and I did everything by the book ... and sure enough, I was told I was cancer free!.  So after five years, I felt it was safe to go back to old habits and eat the things I missed the most – including meats. I was still working out, but admittedly, junk food managed to creep its way into my system.

My cancer came back after roughly eight years. 

One day, while taking a shower, I decided to check and feel for any lumps- just to make sure everything's okay.  Surprisingly, I felt a lump. It was small but experience says to keep an eye on it.  By September, it grew to the size of a pea and it was getting bigger.  My doctor elected a sonogram then an MRI just to confirm that my cancer came back.

This time, I was angry, because I felt like I did everything I needed to do. I did the chemo. I honestly didn't believe my eating would have brought my cancer back.  They recommended four treatments of chemo, but this time it was stronger. For the first time, I had to take Taxotere, and then, this time, I had to do the AC.

I looked at my husband and said, "This is a joke. I feel like I'm being punked… we're going to do this again!" I started the first chemo treatment and became really, really sick. I was hospitalized for a week. I could not tolerate the chemo's side effects; it was way too strong. And I told them, "What are my options, because I can't do four treatments with the way I was feeling."  It really hit my body hard- so they redirected me to 6 weeks of radiation treatments.

So again, I stopped eating meat, stopped sugar, went back to the juicing, I did my daily routine of walking (I live by Central Park, so I would walk the reservoir).  I was religious with my health especially during and even after I was done with the treatments.

But a year later, I kept up with my self exams to make sure there were no lumps, and then ended up finding another one - this time on the right side! Very small again, underneath my breast - and just like the last one, it started to grow.

For the third time, the cancer had come back.

Once again, I underwent surgery to remove the cancer. It did not go to the lymph nodes, so they didn't recommend chemo this time around, but I had to do radiation again for six weeks. This was my reality. I had cancer in 2007- then again in 2014, and then the cancer came back in 2016.

What was confusing to me was that this time, I was so diligent about prevention- not having any meat, and constant juicing and exercising.  I feel as if my body produces cancer cells much faster than a regular person. I just have to be more vigilant with checking myself.

I try to make sure that I'm stress-free, that I don't put myself in situations that would make my immune system just crash.  My doctor and I are both very diligent about checkups and often do sonograms at the slightest concern. I see my breast surgeon every six months. And now, she's finally pushed it to a year, so I'm so happy with that.

I think, meat plays a huge part in all of this because of the hormones that are being injected into them.  I do my best to buy products that say Non-Hormones, No Antibiotics, etc., however, how much of that is true.  I was convinced that I needed to stop eating meats all together and to stop putting all of these processed products into my body and start eating a much healthier diet.

Eventually, I would like to become a vegan, but I know there's so many things that I really enjoy eating, like eggs and cheese. But slowly, I've been pulling away from eating eggs. It's been a year since the last time I’ve eaten eggs, but cheese is a hard one to quit. I'm just trying to eat a more "clean" foods-- a lot more vegetables, a lot more fruits, and making sure that I wash them, and they're organic.

Organic and gluten-free was the way to go for me! I don't drink dairy milk anymore only almond milk. I'm really trying NOT to introduce the bad stuff to my children. Two of them are already grown, I really try to give my youngest one ZERO red meat except maybe once a month.  Sometimes, it's turkey or chicken, but even that, we've really pulled away from. I try not to be as restrictive with them because they're young, and they should make their own decisions later, however, I want them to be knowledgeable of what they put into their bodies.  Zero sugar is hard to do but we try to stay away from candy, donuts and pastries.

(End of part 1)

This article is a feature interview with Mrs. Vanessa Silva, 3x Breast Cancer Survivor and ambassador of the "GetCheckedNow!" program by Awareness for a Cure.

Extra: Cancer Survivorship
Strong evidence suggests that physical activity reduces the risk of several cancers, including breast and colon cancers.  Worldwide, around 10% of breast and colon cancer cases are linked to a lack of activity.3 Being physically active also helps prevent overweight or obesity, which may reduce a person’s risk of certain cancers related to excess body weight. In addition to helping prevent cancer, physical activity is also important for cancer survivors. One-third of cancer deaths in the United States are linked to physical activity and dietary factors. Cancer survivors who are physically active have a better quality of life and better physical fitness than survivors who are inactive. In addition, studies suggest that adults with breast or colon cancer who are physically active are less likely to die prematurely or have a recurrence of their cancer. Physical activity may also play a role in reducing adverse effects of cancer treatment.  (see complete article)

Sponsors & Special Thanks:
1) (Article sponsor 1) Male Breast Cancer Coalition:
2) (Article sponsor 2) Integrative Medicine of NY:
3) (Article Sponsor 3) Male Breast CancerScan:
4) (Publisher) Awareness for a Cure:
5) (Co-Publisher): NY Cancer Resource Alliance:
6) (Associate Sponsor) LI2Day:
7) (Associate Sponsor) IvyGene Labs:
8) (Associate Sponsor) Cell Therapy Center of NY:
9) The BioFoundation for Angiogenesis Research and Dev.
10) JAG Professional Coaching:

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