October may be Breast Cancer Awareness Month, but Nicki Boscia Durlester acts as a breast cancer awareness activist all year long, working to support survivors and save lives.
Written byLinda Grasso
Sherman Oaks resident Nicki Boscia Durlester has lived nearly her entire life with the threat of cancer. She first encountered the disease at the age of 5, when her mother was diagnosed with cancer.
“It’s our family business. My mother and six of her seven sisters all had breast, ovarian or fallopian tube cancer. Hard to escape when your family has the BRCA2 gene mutation,” she says.
Nicki was by her mother’s side through her battle with fallopian tube cancer; she died when Nicki was 20. “I didn’t know at the time that I had a BRCA2 mutation, but the threat of breast or ovarian cancer always loomed large,” Nicki confides.
In 2001, Nicki tested positive for the gene mutation. Then, eight years later, her worst fears came true. At the age of 52, a cancerous mass was detected in her breast. A bilateral mastectomy as well as a life change followed.
“That finally gave me the golden ticket to make this my full-time job,” Nicki explains. She ended her 30-year career as a headhunter to devote herself to raising awareness and providing support for others.
In her first book, Beyond the Pink Moon, Nicki wrote about her own breast cancer story. The book spawned a support group Facebook page (The Pink Moon Lovelies), which inspired a second book.
In Nicki’s new tome, The Pink Moon Lovelies: Empowering Stories of Survival, 50 people share their stories after being diagnosed. With candor and intimate detail, the stories are told by everyday women—ranging from a sergeant in the U.S. Marines to Nicki’s own 26-year-old daughter, Ally, who also carries the dangerous gene.
“The idea to create a collection of stories was fostered by the goal to have far-reaching effects outside of Facebook. It is important to share the journeys of these brave hearts who are willing to stand up and make a difference in the lives of previvors, survivors and people whose lives have been touched by breast and ovarian cancer,” Nicki explains. She adds, “That’s all of us, isn’t it?”
Labor of love
Top 5 Risk Reducers
Dr. Kristi Funk, medical director of the Pink Lotus Breast Center (pinklotusbreastcenter.com) and the surgeon who recently operated on actress Angelina Jolie, provides tips to reduce the risk of breast cancer.
Alcohol increases estrogen levels, impairs immunity function and inactivates folic acid (which is important for repairing DNA when it goes awry). Limit to one a day.
No question. No controversy. Obese women have more than twice the breast cancer incidence, recurrence and breast cancer-related deaths than non-obese women.
Concentrate on a high-fiber, low-fat, lean meat (chicken, fish, turkey) diet with an abundance of fresh fruits and vegetables (preferably organic) and a splash of monounsaturated oils (olive, sesame, flaxseed).
Women who exercise three to four times per week at moderate to vigorous levels have a 30% to 40% lower incidence of breast cancer than sedentary women. So break a sweat!
Resentment, anger, grudges … stress creates chronic inflammation, the preferred environment for cancer cells. Breathe deep. Let it go. The stress could kill you.