If you are struggling to overcome breast cancer, it is important to understand the role of a strong immune system. It is vital that you know that there are many powerful natural boosters for the immune system and that they enhance healing and help to stimulate the body’s natural healing defenses, making them perfect for use just prior to surgery, post-surgery and/or when you are going through chemotherapy and/or radiation.
The Importance Of A Strong Immune System
Once you are through with your treatments, building a strong immune system becomes even more important, to keep recurrences away. Your immune system is your first line of defense against not only pathogens, viruses, and bacteria, but cancer cells. If your immune system is under-reacting to an internal threat, cancer is often the result.
My Favorites To Build A Strong Immune System
Here’s my list of favorite supplements to build a strong immune system. Please don’t use everything listed below all at the same time. Always consult a health professional before embarking upon any regimen to get personalized recommendations for dosages and which of the following is best for you.
American ginseng (Panax quinquefolius) – a tonic herb, it can boost energy levels and decrease recovery time post-surgery.
Andrographis (Andrographis paniculata) – has been studied recently for its immune stimulating effects, as well as anti-inflammatory benefits. There’s a good article on it on the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center website .
Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) – an Ayurvedic herb useful for strengthening the immune system, it also combats the effects of stress, reduces anxiety and depression, and has anti-inflammatory benefits.
Astragalus (Astragalus membranaceus) – used for centuries by the Chinese, astragalus is a potent enhancer of the immune system.
Curcumin – a yellow pigment derived from the root spice turmeric, a powerful antioxidant. We have loads of research on its anti-cancer activity, and it decreases the levels of two enzymes in the body that cause inflammation. 
Echinacea (Echinacea angustifolia) – boosts the immune system by increasing production of white blood cells which help fight disease.
Essential oils – vast quantities of research now exist proving beyond a shadow of a doubt exactly how essential oils can be used to enhance immunity. Nearly every single essential oil contains phytochemicals (plant chemicals) that have research-backed anti-cancer and immune-stimulating properties. This is a vast subject, so if you’d like to know more about how to use essential oils – and which ones help the most, just subscribe to my newsletters. I share loads of great information in my free newsletters.
Glyconutrients – plant based and organic, these supply all eight of the simple sugars our cells require for proper communication, thus assisting with brain function, immune function, etc. When the cells are communicating better, everything starts working more optimally. What I like about them is that they help to create healthy stem cells. See my article Breast Cancer Stem Cells – Stopping Them In Their Tracks.
Goji or Wolfberry (Lyciumbarbarum) – unlike some herbs, this one has good research ,  which indicates its usefulness for increasing immunological responses. Best taken in a juice as it tends to preserve the polysaccharide content that dried fruit does not contain. The brands I love are Young Living’s NingXia Red (you can get that from me) and Freelife GoChi. Both taste amazing and are super easy to take and work the best for boosting immunity.
Goldenseal (Hydrastis canadensis)– a natural antibiotic, goldenseal contains the phytochemical berberine. It’s wonderful for helping to prevent and fight infections, it is a potent anti-inflammatory, helps boost white blood cells, and one 2010 study found that berberine inhibited the growth of two different types of breast cancer cells better than the chemo drug doxorubicine .
Green tea (Camellia sinensis) – contains potent antioxidant compounds that neutralize free radicals and prevent damage to the immune system. In addition, green tea stimulates the liver to secrete interferon, an immune compound that helps fight infection. To bolster immune function, drink 3 or more cups of organic green tea daily.
4Life Transfer Factors – specially formulated to help immune cells identify health threats and speed up the immune response to those threats. Transfer factors work by transferring immune memory and knowledge from one entity to another, a rather different approach to immune system support. I’ve taken these myself, have recommended them for hundreds of others and everyone loves them. You can get them from me. Contact me for more information.
It’s always a good idea to let your physician know exactly what you are taking in order to avoid any possible drug interactions.
 Curcumin Induces Cell Death and Restores Tamoxifen Sensitivity in the Antiestrogen-resistant Breast Cancer Cell Lines MCF-7/LCC2 and MCF-7/LCC9 — http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23299550
 Immunomodulatory Effects of a Standardized Lycium Barbarum Fruit Juice in Chinese Older Healthy Human Subjects — http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19857084
 Lycium Barbarum Inhibits Growth of Estrogen Receptor Positive Human Breast Cancer Cells By Favorably Altering Estradiol Metabolism – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19373615
 The Alkaloid Berberine Inhibits the Growth of Anoikis-resistant MCF-7 and MDA-MB-231 Breast Cancer Cell Lines by Inducing Cell Cycle Arrest – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19800775
GET MY BEST TIPS on getting through breast cancer and preventing recurrences by signing up for my free e-newsletters and e-books on the right. You can also “like” me on Facebook (Marnie Clark, Breast Health Coach) to get my inspirational snippets, news and updates. I promise to do my utmost to keep you informed and empowered on your healing journey… and beyond.
The information provided on this site is for informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for advice from your physician or other health care professional. You should not use the information on this site for diagnosis or treatment of any health problem and please be sure to consult your health care professional when making decisions about your health.
Image Source: freedigitalphotos.net / David Castillo Dominici
Tips For Surgery – Useful Items to Take With You
Getting ready for surgery, particularly if it’s your first time, can be nerve wracking. It is completely normal to feel anxious before surgery. Doing things like getting friends and family to help you care for children or pets or make meals or household chores can help you focus on what you need to be doing right now – healing YOU.
I’m a frequent visitor on various on-line breast cancer forums – just spreading the love whenever I can. When I came across this list of useful items to take with you to your breast cancer surgery (the forum is on www.breastcancer.org), I knew I needed to share it with you. I’ve added to it, some of my readers have added to it, and it’s a pretty cool list of necessaries.
One really useful bit of information was to move commonly used items, kitchen tools, etc to low shelves or drawers before your surgery because you sure won’t feel like it when you get home and reaching above your head is a big no-no after breast surgery. At least for awhile!
Useful Items To Take With You (or Do)
The first three items on the list are mine. I found them to be so terrific, I’m excited about sharing them with you. The rest on the list are from various forum members, all great suggestions.
Arnica – comes as a homeopathic, a cream or a gel but it’s great stuff for limiting surgical bruising and pain – I never needed the self-administered pain drugs (morphine) and consequently healed much quicker. Available from most health food stores, or my Useful Links page.
Essential oils – being a massage therapist and aromatherapist, I knew which essential oils decrease pain and inflammation and increase oxygen to the areas surrounding the surgical site. I started using them just as soon as I was able and they were amazing for pain control. Since incisions will be covered, just apply the essential oil to the areas you can access – the oil will migrate where it is needed. I used a blend called PanAway but lavender and frankincense are also quite good for surgery recovery. Contact me know if you need info on where to get therapeutic grade oils.
Have constipation meds ready – one forum mentioned having a stool softener for a couple of days prior to your surgery.
Lanyard (like for ID cards) for holding breast drains
Waist pack for drains
Lip balm / facial lotion / body lotion – it’s dry in some hospitals due to the air conditioning (make sure you use organic)
Phone / have friends’ numbers handy because they’ll like to know how you’re doing (remember to take the charger)
Take clothes to hospital that can be washed/sanitized at home (ie lose the dry cleaning!)
Slippers or Crocs – easy to slip on and off
Camisoles/tanks which can be stepped into (as opposed to pulling over-head)
Silky bottoms/PJs to make getting in/out of bed easier
Button up shirts
Zip up hoodies/ warm ups
Elastic waist pants easy to pull on
Jog Bras (Natori is recommended) or whatever support is suggested by your surgeon
Power/energy bars (had to wait 8 hrs in recovery for my bed) – look for ones with high amounts of protein and low sugar to assist with your incision healing process
Reading glasses with cord attached
E-reader (like a Kindle) – much easier to prop up and turn pages and it’s lit for late-night insomnia!
Wet towelettes – make sure to get a brand without propylene glycol – useful to give yourself sponge baths for the first couple of days when you can’t shower
Home-made bran muffins with lots of fiber
Light shawl for shoulders or lightweight fleece blanket
Small notepad and paper for questions for surgeon (they always show up when nurses are doing stuff to you
A smallish soft pillow from home – great for the post-surgery cough, propping up your arm to hold a book, get just the right angle for your head.
Black sleep mask
Noise reducing headphones
Have a little pillow you can tuck under your arm for the car-ride home.
Fill prescriptions before coming home so you won’t have to go back out.
Don’t see your favorite item on the list? I will add it! Just scroll down the page to the comments box and add your suggestion and thanks! I will keep this list updated.
Don’t Forget To Get Plenty of Rest Once You’re Home
The most important thing is that after surgery you get plenty of rest in order for your body to heal. Knowing everything is taken care of in advance will give you the peace of mind that you need.
The Most Important Part About Healing From Breast Cancer
Your immune system is your first line of defense against any sort of disease process. It is sure to be compromised right now, especially after surgery, so please read my best tips on how to rebuild it: 8 Ways To Build a Super Strong Immune System.
If you would like my help with getting through breast cancer in an inspiring and ultra-healthy way, please sign up for my free e-newsletters on the right, or “like” me on Facebook (MarnieClark.com). When you’re in a desperate situation, you need an ally. You can depend on me to help you through this.
Breast Cancer Thriver Discusses Lycium Barbarum for Healing and Health
One of my favorite nutrients when I was going through breast cancer was a juice that has the botanical name of Lycium barbarum, more commonly known as goji or wolfberry.
It is one of the things I highly recommend in my free report “21 Crucial Things To Do When You Have A Breast Cancer Diagnosis” (just sign up for my newsletters over on the far right-hand side of this page to get your copy).
I have been getting a load of inquiries about it lately, so I decided to create a video explaining all about it! Doing a video is always a little confronting and I’m not a pro by any means, but hopefully you will find the information helpful.
Here is the research I reference in the video:
Lycium Barbarum Inhibits Growth of Estrogen Receptor Positive Human Breast Cancer Cells by Favorably Altering Estradiol Metabolism – https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/6458/233c8a6260e2fbcba650ed331d5c0dfb81ff.pdf
If you would like my help with getting through breast cancer in an inspiring and ultra-healthy way, please sign up for my free e-newsletters on the right, or “like” me on Facebook (Marnie Clark, Breast Health Coach). When you’re in a desperate situation, you need an ally. You can depend on me to help you through this.
Cancer treatments such as chemotherapy and radiation can cause so much fatigue that the cancer patient often wonders what is worse – the disease or the treatment for it!
Fortunately, complementary medicine offers much to assist the cancer patient and below are a few suggestions. I used most of these at one time or another during my breast cancer treatments and can highly recommend them.
6 Helpful Remedies for Cancer Treatment Fatigue
Combine Massage with Essential Oils – You wouldn’t think that something which promotes relaxation would actually help with fatigue! But massage is wonderful. If you ask your therapist to include certain essential oils (such as lemongrass, eucalyptus, juniper, basil, lemon, rosemary, cypress, peppermint) as fatigue busters you will definitely notice a difference, especially the day following your massage. Or use some of the suggested oils daily, just breathing in essential oils on a regular basis can help banish fatigue and promote clearer thinking.
Eat your Greens! – Sometimes this can be really hard. I remember just thinking about eating a green salad when I was undergoing chemotherapy would almost make me gag. I just could not stand the thought of it! If you’re like that, it might be easier to take supplements. If you need suggestions about the best ones to take, see my webpage: Marnie’s Must-Have Supplements for Breast Health
Experience Chinese Medicine – While I was undergoing chemotherapy, I saw a Chinese Medicine doctor who prescribed certain herbs and did acupuncture for me every couple of weeks – I believe this helped my chemo related fatigue immensely. The Chinese have some truly healing herbs that will really help your chi (energy).
Try the Amazingly Restorative Juice of Lycium Barbarum – I drank this juice just as soon as I got my breast cancer diagnosis. I’d been doing research on it for several years so I knew the wonderful benefits of it. I truly believe that this remarkable berry confers health benefits far and above every other juice product on the market. I took it with me to my chemotherapy appointments – while they were pouring their chemicals into me, I was drinking goji/wolfberry juice. I rarely suffered any fatigue or nausea.
Movement Practices such as Yoga – I found yoga to be absolutely fantastic while I was undergoing treatments and I still carry on with it to this day. It seems to help you stay active and full of energy, while at the same time it decreases stress and tension. If you don’t have access to a class, this is a great yoga DVD for beginners.
Grab Some Extra Sleep – It may seem obvious, but if you’re suffering unduly from cancer related fatigue, sometimes the best thing to do is just sleep. Give yourself permission to do this whenever you need to! No feeling guilty!
I hope this post helps you and I wish you great healing today.
I send my love to everyone taking this journey right now. If you would like my help with getting through breast cancer in an inspiring and ultra-healthy way, please sign up for my free e-newsletters on the right, or “like” me on Facebook (Marnie Clark, Breast Health Coach) and I’ll do my utmost to keep you informed and empowered on your healing journey… and beyond.
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About Marnie Clark
Hi I'm Marnie Clark, breast cancer survivor, and breast cancer coach. I have 20+ years of experience in natural medicine. In 2004/05 I battled breast cancer myself. You can see more about my journey on my page Breast Cancer Diary.
I've been healthy and recurrence-free since 2004 and in 2012 I became a Breast Cancer Coach because I became aware of the fact that whilst there is now a wealth of information on the Internet, much of it is confusing, conflicting, and sometimes just wrong!
Why should you work with me? Because:
(1) You don't want to go through this journey alone, feeling unempowered, frightened or just plain
clueless about what to do to help yourself.
(2) You will have someone working tirelessly on your behalf, putting together a healing plan for
you so you don’t have to lose your precious energy researching what food you should eat,
what supplements you should take, and what other things you can do that will give you the
best chances for survival. Instead you can spend that time resting, meditating, healing.
(3) You will learn what questions to ask your doctor (and have someone to turn to for the
questions they can't or won't answer).
(4) You will be armed with the tools and strategies you will need to get through the therapies you
choose so you can make your body hostile terrain for cancer.
You can also “like” me on Facebook (Marnie Clark, Breast Health Coach) to get my inspirational snippets, news and updates. I promise to do my utmost to keep you informed and empowered on your healing journey… and beyond.