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  • Writer's pictureSurviving Breast Cancer

Excess Estrogen, Gene Testing, and Beyond

By TJ Hills

My breast cancer story began about 15 years ago, at the age of 42. At that time, I was a very busy working mother- a stereotypical, New York City, Type A professional.

I had 3 young children, my husband worked nonstop, and I had a financial consulting business where I worked about 40-60 hours a week. I got paid to be rigorous and methodical about data and research. It was a well-developed skill that I never once applied to myself.

Ignoring My Health

For the 18 months before my diagnosis, my menstrual bleeding was becoming more and more irregular. I was gaining weight, and I was easily becoming tired and sleeping more than I had ever in my life.

I saw a few OB/GYNs to try to get some help with the bleeding, but basically, I ignored my health and did not take the time to get to the bottom of my symptoms.

In early 2009, I found a lump in my breast.

My Diagnosis

After a biopsy, the lump turned out to be Stage 3, aggressive estrogen/ progesterone receptor positive cancer, or what oncologists call “garden variety breast cancer,” which refers to an estrogen positive breast cancer which is more than 85% of all breast cancers.

I went into a state of shock.

In 2009, I was the first person in my extended family, just like more than 80% of all women diagnosed with breast cancer, to have any form of cancer.

Why I had cancer was a complete mystery to me and my family.

The odds I was given, back in 2009 before some of the individualized testing, like Oncotype was widely in use, was a 30% chance of the cancer coming back within 5 years if I successfully completed surgery, chemo, and radiation. It seemed to me that to leave my children without a mother was a horrible thing to do. I was determined to improve those odds somehow started with using my research skills.

Estrogen Gene Testing and Remedies

Luckily for me, soon after my diagnosis, I met Dr. Veltmann, an expert in nutrigenomics, which is broadly defined as the relationship between nutrients, diet, and gene expression. The very first thing he asked me was, “Have you had any irregular bleeding?” My story and my cancer were not a mystery to him.

On the contrary, he was working with a large group of female military veterans, all of whom had a similar story and a 30% chance of their cancer coming back within 5 years. None of his patients had their cancer come back. That was a success that I wanted to learn more about.

He gave me an estrogen gene test which showed damage on every single gene- genes like CYP1A1, CYP1B1, COMT, MnSOD, GSTP, and others.

My body does not get rid of excess estrogen properly. That means it may not all exit in your urine or sweat and may recirculate in your body, potentially becoming toxic. It is especially important for women diagnosed with estrogen positive breast cancer to improve their estrogen health and get rid of any excess estrogen.

What are excess estrogens? It can be drugs that some of us take for decades. In the beginning, it’s birth control pills, and at the end, it’s hormone replacement pills in a prescription pill or a cream or something you picked up at Whole Foods.

Some women may take fertility medications ranging from Clomid, to a full in vitro fertility cycle.

And in America, we are surrounded by chemicals that mimic estrogen in our food, our water, our skin care, shampoos, cosmetics, and especially on our lawns. If you have questions about your estrogen health, definitely speak with your oncologist.

Dr. Veltman prescribed simple remedies starting with a supplement called Dim-Pro which is essentially concentrated broccoli, Fish Oil, and strong antioxidants like Vitamin C. That’s the regimen that I use to improve how I get rid of excess estrogen.

If Only

But I kept thinking… IF ONLY I had taken an Estrogen Gene test earlier and learned about my lifelong estrogen health, I might have made different choices about drugs like birth control pills, fertility treatments, and hormone replacement therapy.

IF ONLY I had learned about Estrogen Genes earlier, I might have started the remedies to get rid of the excess estrogens and might have prevented my breast cancer or perhaps had an earlier or less aggressive cancer. We still will never know why some of us develop breast cancer in the first place.

IF ONLY every woman everywhere could take this test and learn about her lifelong estrogen health as early as possible.

Applying My Skills

After I finished treatment, I applied my professional skills to my own cancer. I investigated many options, including estrogen metabolism genes and decided to improve how I get rid of excess estrogen, in hopes of improving my cancer odds.

I learned a lot about estrogen along the way, including that estrogen exposures are the primary risk factors for breast cancer.

I also learned that while I didn’t have any cancer history in my family, I discovered an extensive background of estrogen metabolism dysfunction. Endometriosis, fibroid tumors, ovarian cysts, infertility, polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), or acne so severe it required pharmaceutical intervention. Apart from the PCOS, I had every one of these conditions running rampant through my family.

Why I Share My Breast Cancer Story

I have been sharing my story for more than 10 years. I tell my story because hindsight is 20/20. I continue to believe that if I had stopped to listen to my body and I had sought help earlier, my garden variety breast cancer might have been a lesser one or maybe even have been prevented entirely.

Whether you are someone diagnosed with breast cancer or a family member or friend reading this, I hope my story inspires you to take care of your health above any and all obligations.

Don’t ignore an ongoing medical issue and get yourself an estrogen gene test. Some of the testing companies may call it a detoxification or hormone panel. It is important that you choose a company that includes protocols to improve your gene expression that you will review with your healthcare team so you get rid of any excess estrogens as well as possible.

Know your lifelong estrogen health, make healthier decisions, and use the simple remedies to improve your estrogen health like dim-pro, fish oil, and vitamin C, but of course always check with your healthcare team before starting any new medications

Take the same time, money, and energy that you would spend on your children’s health and spend it on yourself.

Thank you for allowing us to share your story, TJ! SBC adores you! Resources & Support:

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